IT LOOKED TO ME LIKE A GLASS lighthouse, shining bright in the darkness. The space it was in seemed cavernous to me; there was one complete wall that bowed out of the house to accommodate a baby grand piano. I could be sitting in the dining room yet be able to see the brightly lit curio cabinet in the living room. Whether people were visiting or not, the its light was always on. The cabinet was made of glass and wood that had been washed in a gold paint. The top of it came to a point like a domed roof, with a gold ball that sat right at the pinnacle. There were four glass shelves evenly spaced apart that had a curious mix of things that all fascinated me. However, on the bottom shelf there was a chess set that grabbed my attention the most. Sitting on the thick chessboard were these intricate sculpted ivory pieces my relative called netsukes. I had never seen anything like it. Half the pieces sat on black colored bases and the rest on light colored ones. I would stand at the curio cabinet, its light the only one on in the room, wanting to take the chess pieces out and play with them; but I knew my relative would not approve. The only time I could hold one of the pieces is when my relative took one out and placed it in my hands for only a short moment. Otherwise, they were off limits to everyone. THAT CHESS SET PLANTED A SEED in me because my infatuation with it caused me to learn how to play the game. I received a gift of a travel sized chess set that looked like a large wallet. When I would unzip the sides of the red vinyl rectangular wallet and fold the sides down, it would reveal a square red and white checkerboard. The chess pieces were magnetic dots with each of their tops embossed with the outline of either a white or black chess piece. Except for my relatives with the curio cabinet, I did not know anyone who played chess; so, I would play against myself. I would try different first moves, wanting to give each magnetic chess piece a turn. Luckily, I was finally able to convince a friend to let me teach him and we started playing a few times a month. It was good practice for me I thought; I just did not know practice for what? I was able to plan a few moves out but not anywhere near what the students in this dramatic movie were capable of doing. SOME FROM BROKEN HOMES AND OTHERS FROM different backgrounds, a group of inner-city students found one thing in common; they liked being treated equal in Mr. Martinez’, played by John Leguizamo (Moulin Rouge, Spawn), high school classroom. With Rachel Bay Jones (Ben is Back, Grey’s Anatomy-TV) as Principal Kestel, Michael Kenneth Williams (12 Years a Slave, Assassin’s Creed) as Mr. Roundtree, Corwin C. Tuggles (Detachment, Orange is the New Black-TV) and Jorge Lendeborg Jr. (Bumblebee; Love, Simon) as Oelmy “Ito” Paniagua; this film that was based on a true story provided a feel good experience for me. I thought John was exceptional in his role; he reminded me of a teacher I had back in school. The story did not provide much surprise to it; it followed a typical story line that I have seen before. Set in Miami during the late 90s, I liked the throwback feel of the film. Despite having nothing that stood out as special for me, I thought the story was still moving. And if you decide to see this movie please stay for the credits to see the extra scenes.
2 ½ stars
IT SOUNDED LIKE HE WAS PROUD to tell me he could eat anything; I congratulated him, telling him I had to watch what I ate. When we met in school, he told me he was diabetic. Later he told me he was surprised by my reaction when he initially told me. I said, “Oh, okay; but don’t think I am going to treat you special now.” Up until that moment most people he had told according to him started treating him differently, as if he could not make his own decisions. Please keep in mind, this happened back in time before we had the technology, we have now for tracking blood sugar levels. From that first meeting on our dorm floor, we became fast friends. We both had opted out of the meal plan offered at the school, instead fending for ourselves in the communal kitchen on our floor. Seeing what he ate on a weekly basis did make me curious how he managed to eat certain foods that I had thought would wreak havoc with his sugar levels. I remember asking him if he took the same amount of insulin each day, after seeing him inject himself in the stomach at the table before we started eating dinner one night. He said he could feel his sugar levels and adjust his insulin dosage accordingly; he would just wing the dosages each day depending on what he planned on eating. It surprised me because he would eat desserts, drink alcohol and snack between meals on an assortment of food items from natural to processed. ONE NIGHT WE WERE HANGING OUT, watching TV. After we had sat through a couple of sit-coms, the news came on. The newscaster listed the night’s news stories that were to be covered during the telecast and one of the topics was the use of service dogs for diabetics. Of course, my friend was curious about it as well as myself; so, we decided to sit through the news until the dog story was covered. I was familiar with the use of seeing eye dogs for the blind, but I could not imagine what service dogs would do for those with diabetes. Well, it turned out to be an interesting news segment. Service dogs were being trained to alert a person when their blood sugar level was out of range. Both of us could not believe what we were seeing, but it evidently was working; the dogs could smell when a person’s levels were out of whack. Though that was such a novel idea at the time, it turns out it was only the beginning to the variety of animals that would be put into use to assist people. Some would come from unexpected places, such as the one in this drama based on a true story. WHILE VACATIONING IN THAILAND A FAMILY experiences a horrific accident that would alter their lives. No one seemed to heal from the event until the children one day brought home an injured animal. With Naomi Watts (The Book of Henry, The Impossible) as Sam Bloom, newcomer Griffin Murray-Johnston as Noah Bloom, Andrew Lincoln (Love Actually, The Walking Dead-TV) as Cameron Bloom, newcomer Felix Cameron as Rueben Bloom and Jacki Weaver (Poms, Silver Linings Playbook) as Jan; the story behind this movie was unbelievable and difficult to watch at times. Naomi transformed herself into her character, that easily pulled me into the story. The gorgeous scenery was a bonus as I enjoyed the director’s light touch to letting the story play out in a real way. I am sure there were extra parts that were inserted into the script to manipulate the viewer, but I felt they were not done in a heavy-handed way. And if that was not enough, watching the animal in this film was so amazing and done in such an endearing way that I was captivated. Also, stay for the credits to see actual photographs of the family this film was based on.
AS THE ICONIC BUILDING FLASHED ACROSS my television screen, I was saddened to see the damage. Its beautiful white terra-cotta tiles at street level had been broken or spray painted with graffiti. The glass in the entrance doors had been smashed to pieces. All I could do was sit there and stew in my feelings of anger that was bubbling up. This is something I do not understand; why some protesters feel the need to destroy random pieces of property. Before you tell me, they are making a point, I want to be clear that I believe they have the right to protest; whether it is a peaceful march or a sit-in, they have every right to protest. The thing I do not understand is the correlation between a person’s cause and the destruction of an object. Sure, if one felt let us say that voice enabled smart speakers were evil, then I can understand why a person is making a public statement by breaking the devices with a sledgehammer in the middle of the street. But to attack public property or burn down stores, I do not see that act as a productive use of one’s time in getting their message across. Staging a protest at the corporate headquarters of a company that is contributing to the deforestation of the rainforest is totally understandable and valid, in my opinion. But setting fire to the public train station that is underneath the company is not productive and does more harm I feel. MY DESIRE TO PROTECT PUBLIC PROPERTY is born in the love I have for the city of my birth. I have lived in my city all of my life and I am proud of it. Like any city in the world it has its flaws; however, it has things that are unique to it. I mentioned in an older movie review that when I was growing up, I came up with an idea to run a sightseeing company that used limousines instead of buses to transport small groups of people around the city. One of my favorite things to do is take out of town visitors on a tour of the city and its surrounding areas. There is so much to explore and discover just within the city limits that I could spend days dragging visitors to every corner of my city. Besides loving my tour guide responsibilities, I absolutely enjoy when I visit an out of town friend/relative who does the same thing by showing me all the sights in their city. I do not know what to call my strong feelings about my city; pride, love, protective or a combination of them? I just know I do not what anyone tearing down what has been created for its inhabitants. This is the reason I was impressed with the work that was being done by the main characters in this dramatic war drama. REFUSING TO END THE MISSION THEY started, an elite group of officers continue to face death as they try to rid their city from forces who have been tearing it down. With Waleed Elgadi (Four Lions, A Hologram for the King) as Colonel Kaveh Afsahani, Hayat Kamille (Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile) as Hayat, Thaer Al-Shayei (Fears, The Antwerp Dolls) as Hooka, Suhail Dabbach (The Hurt Locker, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) as Jasem and Adam Bessa (The Blessed, Extraction) as Kawa; this film based on a true story was filled with gripping intensity. Set in what was Iraq’s 2ndlargest city, the non-stop actions of this elite squad were incredible to watch. I thought the direction was in synch with the script and appreciated the moments that were given for emotional release. Despite the violent scenes with blood, I could not stop watching what was taking place in the story and truly, what a story. Arabic was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ½ stars
I WAS GREETED AT THE DOOR by 2 overly excited dogs. They were sisters who my friends adopted when they were puppies. Being familiar with me, they were happy to see me because they knew I was the one who gave them body massages; well, at least that is what I hoped they thought. Whenever I would tell the two of them it was time for a doggie massage, the chocolate colored dog would lie down on her side, in preparation for her massage; the vanilla colored dog remained standing with this quizzical look on her face as she continued to watch me. I would have to gently hold her as I brought her down onto her side and even then, she would try to get back up. It was only when I started rubbing her side that she would calm down and relax, allowing me to continue my ministrations. The other dog did nothing but wait there for me to massage her. It was quite comical. This was not the only difference between the sisters. It was easy to fake out the vanilla colored sister. I could pretend to throw one of their toys across the room and the vanilla sister would run down the length of the room looking for the toy. The other dog was too smart and would stay in place with this look of anticipation on her face, as if telling me to throw the toy already. Two dogs from the same litter, yet so different. I REALLY WAS NOT SURPRISED BY one dog being smarter than the other. The same type of thing has happened in human families, I have noticed. I knew two brothers who had 4 years difference between their ages. The younger brother was the smarter one who got good grades and achievement awards. The older brother’s school grades were a mishmash of passing and failing grades. He also got in trouble a lot. Now you would think 2 boys being raised in the same house under the same conditions would be more similar, but it was not the case. I have always been curious about this disparity between family members. There is this family I know where the parents only had a high school education. Their focus was staying employed; they did not read anything or try to learn something new. Their only son received zero encouragement from them since his aspirations for higher education were a foreign concept. I do not know whether it was despite or because of his parents, but early on he displayed high intelligence which was quickly noted by his teachers. Where his parents could barely write a clear sentence, he became the editor of his elementary school’s newspaper, besides being a winner in state driven English contests. This type of dynamic is something I find so fascinating, which is why I was intrigued with this dramatic film. WHILE ATTEMPTING TO GET AN INTERVIEW lined up, Yale law student J.D. Vance, played by Gabriel Basso (Super 8, The Kings of Summer), found himself being pulled into his Appalachian family’s drama back home in Ohio. With Amy Adams (Arrival, Big Eyes) as Bev, Glenn Close (The Wife, Alfred Nobbs) as Mamaw, Haley Bennett (Music and Lyrics, The Girl on the Train) as Lindsay and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Immortals) as Usha; this movie based on a true story was all about the acting. I thought the cast was outstanding and felt Glenn could get nominated for her role. The story is surprising I grant you; however, I thought the script was not as strong as it needed to be to support the story. There was an element of predictability and at times I felt there was too much melodrama inserted into the scenes; I would have preferred learning more about each character on a deeper level. Despite these misgivings, my interest did not waiver as I observed the dynamics in this generational family story.
2 ½ stars
NO MATTER WHERE I BUMPED INTO him, I always knew what to expect. He would address me with a nickname he made up back when we were classmates. Next, he would ask me if I was still in touch with a classmate of ours before he would make a snide comment about them. I stopped asking him to not make any comments about them but every time we ran into each other, he still made sure to say something. These days I simply do not react to his comments; instead, I ask him something different to switch the subject. Whenever I have bumped into him, I am reminded how I disliked the pettiness and backstabbing that took place amongst the school’s cliques. He was an instigator who enjoyed all that drama. Because he never failed to make a comment about someone we knew, I believed he was trying to get me to join him in badmouthing people from our past; to what purpose, I had no idea. I did find it puzzling that after all these years he had not changed one bit; he was obnoxious back in school as he was now. It was as if he had never grown up and I had to wonder if he had any friends still from our school days. IT WAS INDIVIDUALS LIKE HIM THAT pushed me to apply and accept enrollment in an out of state school. Many of the students I grew up with were applying to our state’s university’s main campus. I decided to send out applications to schools from a few states nearby and some that were close to the coasts. As luck would have it, I wound up at a university where only 2 other fellow classmates planned on attending and if they were there, I never saw them. One of my goals for going out of state for school was to reinvent myself. Due to the experiences I had in my schooling, I did not want to repeat it out of state; so, I worked on myself internally. This meant I had to look back and exam painful experiences, hoping to find an inner strength that would help me not to repeat similar scenarios in my new surroundings. I wanted to return home as a grown-up essentially; someone who past classmates would have a hard time recognizing. I will be honest; it took a lot of work to push out the built-up anger and resentment. Not that it is all gone now, but I know I have been traveling on the right path based on former acquaintances’ reactions when meeting me now. I can see similar work was done by the main actor in this film festival nominated thriller because I did not think once he was Harry Potter playing another character. DESPITE BEING CONVICTED AND IMPRISONED, ANTI-APARTHEID activist Tim Jenkin, played by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter franchise, Swiss Army Man), was determined to get out of his prison cell and continue his fight. With Daniel Webber (Australia Day, Thumper) as Stephen Lee, Ian Hart (Michael Collins, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) as Denis Goldberg, Mark Leonard Winter (The Dressmaker, One Eyed Girl) as Leonard Fontaine and Nathan Page (Underbelly-TV, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries-TV) as Mongo; this movie based on a true story was made better by Daniel Radcliffe’s acting. The story itself was given a typical script, but thanks to Daniel and his fellow inmates, I found myself getting pulled into the activist’s plight. There was some unevenness to the directing; but there was no skimping on the parts that needed to be thrilling. The script did not delve deeply into the characters; but for a good old fashioned “prison break” story, this picture can be proud it was able to break out of the pack from similarly themed films.
2 ¾ stars
MOST PEOPLE LOOK AT ME WITH a curious eye when I tell them that I had a female friend in school who was one of my protectors. We were in the same grade, but she was older because she had flunked a grade. She was taller than the other girls in class and was further along in the maturing process. What stood out to me was the fact she was the first student I knew who smoked cigarettes and swore. Several boys in class enjoyed hanging around her because of these 2 facts, though I am sure it also had to do with her being more developed than any of the other girls. I knew for a fact that she was tough after seeing her in a fight on the school’s playground; she pummeled a girl in the face and stomach until the girl ran away crying. Though we did not have much in common, we were friends because I think she was fond of my sense of humor. I could always make her laugh. When we were together the kids who would pick on me would stay away. Not because she could beat all of them up, but because they knew she had an older boyfriend who was tough. More than likely that was the reason why I was safe with her as a friend. THERE WAS ANOTHER STUDENT IN MY grade who had the role of being my protector, but I never knew it. I honestly cannot recall him ever getting into a fistfight. He did not have to because there wasn’t any boy who would challenge him. The reason for it was because he had the body of an elite athlete, having started young with exercising and working out with weights. Where you could see the different muscles on his body, most of the other boys could only put on display a young bicep. When it came to gym class and picking teams, he was one of the first boys to be picked for a team. There was nothing he could not do when it came to a sport or physical test. We were neighbors so we had a friendship outside of school. I did not realize it at the time that he was a protector; the two of us would just hang out together or in a larger group. The added bonus by having him as a friend was knowing his older brother who was just as physically fit; so, I was spared from most teasing or bullying from the older classmates. Since I had these protectors, I could easily identify with the main characters in this biographical, crime drama. WRONGLY ACCUSED AND CONVICTED OF A crime resulted in Henri “Papillon” Charier, played by Charlie Hunnam (Children of Men, Pacific Rim), being sent to Devil’s Island. No one escaped from there, but Henri had an idea. With Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, The Master) as Louis Dega, Christopher Fairbank (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fifth Element) as Jean Castili), Eve Hewson (Bridge of Spies, Robin Hood) as Nennete and Damijan Oklopdzic (Lockout, Everly) as Doorman; this adventure drama based on a true story was a remake of the original movie done in 1973. The acting is what provided me with the most interest. I thought Charlie and Rami worked well together. There were several tough scenes to watch but overall, I thought the filming and cinematography were excellent. What brought down this picture was the script; it was repetitive and did not have enough variety of emotional levels. By the end of the movie, I was left with a feeling of wanting as if I was not fully satisfied with the events. The story is incredible, and I cannot imagine what life must have really been like on that island; I had enough to deal with during my school years.
2 ½ stars
AS I WAS DRIVING HOME RECENTLY, I came up to a busy intersection. On three of the four corners there was a group of protesters; each one was protesting a different cause. One group was formed into a circular group that wedged itself by the corner of the curb, while another group lined itself along the curb of both intersecting streets. Each had signs they were holding and if they were shouting anything I did not hear, because I had the radio playing loud in the car. One group had children in it who were standing still as best they could while holding up their signs. What struck me was the fact that the children looked way too young to understand what was written on their signs. This reminded me of an encounter I had with a group of protesters. I was participating in a peaceful march and this group of protesters were shouting obscenities at us. The things they were saying were vile and hateful. The fact they were there just to protest essentially our existence was bad enough; but that they included their children in it was horrifying to me. Here were small kids holding up signs that had evil verbiage that they probably did not even understand. I found it shameful and sad. These people were teaching those children how to hate someone is what it boiled down to in my opinion. I AM NOT THE TYPE TO QUESTION a person’s right to protest; however, I have a hard time when a protester doesn’t understand or care why they are protesting. There was a student who sat next to me in class who always participated in any protests that were being held on campus. Once I asked him about a protest that was going to take place and he could not explain the reasons behind the protest. I started to think he just wanted to get out of class by attending any protest that took place at the school. The only protest I participated in at school was when the school tried to ban the showing of a controversial film on campus. It was peaceful and orderly as we lined up in front of the dean’s offices. From that protest a compromise was agreed upon for the movie to be shown at an offsite location right next to the campus. I know in the scheme of things this one event was not a political or life altering experience and that is okay. The example is still valid; if you do not like the way something is being handled, get out there and make a change. Just see what the group of high school students tried to do in this dramatic movie based on a true story. TIRED OF THE RESTRICTIONS PLACED ON the bathrooms and not being treated equally, a group of students decide to stage a protest. With Alexa PenaVega (Spy Kids franchise, Sleep Away) as Paula Crisostomo, Michael Pena (Fantasy Island, American Hustle) as Sal Castro, Yancey Arias (Live Free or Die Hard, Bosch-TV) as Panfilo Crisostomo, Laura Harring (The Punisher, Love in the Time of Cholera) as Francis Crisostomo and Efren Ramirez (The Pool Boys, Crank: High Voltage) as Bobby Verdugo; this film festival winner told a story I had never heard before. Based in East Los Angeles during 1968, I thought the directing was excellent in the way it laid out the story to the viewer. There was not a time I was not interested in what I was seeing. The script was adequate, though I felt it was a bit overdramatic at times. As some of you may know, I always enjoy when there are clips shown of the actual people the actors portrayed and this film did not disappoint me. For such a powerful message/event, I have to say I cannot get over I had never heard about this event before and I wonder why.
2 ¾ stars
WHAT I THOUGHT WAS SNOW FLOATING in the summer air was explained to me to be cottonwood seeds. It did not really matter because what attracted me to watch them was the way they randomly moved on the currents of air, slow motion fluffiness with no sense of direction. I was fascinated with flying; it did not matter if I was imagining doing it alone like a superhero or sitting in a plane, peering out the window at the moving landscape below. Looking at the cottonwood seeds, I wanted their ability to be lighter than air and let the currents carry me wherever they wanted to take me. Living on the 3rdfloor of an apartment building provided me with a unique view of air’s power. Seeing the tops of trees swaying and bending in the wind as if they were bowing and curtsying allowed me to visualize the wind’s path coming through my neighborhood. I can still remember being taught how to make a paper airplane then going out on our back porch; so, I could throw it into the air and watch it twist and turn, as it sailed towards the ground. Of course, I would then have to run down 3 flights of stairs to retrieve it then walk back up so I could fling the paper plane over the porch bannister again, out into the wind. FROM PAPER AIRPLANES, I GRADUATED TO flying kites. My first kite was made of a tissue type paper in a light red color. I loved holding it up behind me while running, waiting for it to catch enough wind to rise into the air. One of my favorite places to do this was at the beach, despite the peril of the kite possibly catching a “bad” wind that would force it to spiral down into the lake. However, seeing my kite extend out over the lake always made me happy. Once I had mastered the art of flying a kite, I started to add homemade tails of cloth to the bottoms of my collection of kites. The tails made it easier for me to keep track of my flying kite when there were other kites nearby in the air. And in case you were wondering, it did cross my mind once to tie a key to the kite to see if I could get lightning to strike it. I wonder if this could be one of the reasons why I have always enjoyed sitting and watching a thunderstorm? The wind has provided me with an endless source of enjoyment, both in reality and my imagination; but I do not hold a candle to what the young boy did in this drama. WITH THE VILLAGERS STARVING FOR FOOD during a bad drought, one boy was dreaming of a way he could help. Based on a true story, this film starred Chiwetel Ejiofer (12 Years a Slave, Doctor Strange) as Trywell Kamkwamba, newcomer Maxwell Simba as William Kamkwamba, Lily Banda (Deep State-TV) as Annie Kamkwamba, Aissa Maiga (Black and White, Anything for Alice) as Agnes Kamkwamba and Raymond Ofula (Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Jacob’s Cross-TV) as Mister Ofesi. This movie was a film festival winner and it deserved it because Chiwetel not only starred in it, he wrote and directed the movie. The story was incredible, and I thought as a newcomer Maxwell was a veteran of acting, he was that good. Now I will say the story is predictable, but I did not care; everything I was seeing seemed authentic and real. It also did not go unnoticed by me how one could see parallels between then and now with governments and science. The script was spoken mostly in English but there were several scenes where Arabic and Nyanja were spoken with English subtitles. This picture reinforced my fondness and appreciation for the wind.
3 ½ stars
IT WAS A DOG AND A FALCON that steered me towards wanting to be an animal doctor. The dog was a relative’s pet and she was the first animal adopted into my extended family. She was a sweetheart who was always happy to see me. Anytime I was visiting my relative, I would always take the dog out for walks. She had a red colored ball that she absolutely loved to fetch, that I would spend nearly all my time throwing for her. This may sound odd; but whenever I was with her, I felt at peace. Yes, I know how that must sound but I was at my calmest when I was with her. She was the origin for my love of animals. I also think the comfort I had around her made me more receptive when it came to other animals. One of my summer camp counselors was a falconer. One day he brought a falcon with him. Where some kids were hesitant and shied away from the falcon, I only wanted to get closer and pet him. When he spread his wings out to their full length, I thought for a moment I was in the wild. He looked magnificent while perched on my counselor’s arm, wings wide and head turning to look at all of us kids. THOSE TWO ANIMALS STARTED MY JOURNEY in studying to be a veterinarian. Though I did not get to the finish line, I never lost my love of animals. When I transitioned to a different major I wondered what would have happened if I had never encountered my relative’s dog or the falcon; one single event in time and a whole life can get steered down a particular path that had not been in your conscious prior. I remember a man I used to work with in a warehouse who wanted to be a fashion designer. Seeing his mother create her own outfits started him down his path. From having her teach him how to sew, to going to fashion school to getting a job at a fabric wholesaler where I met him; everyday he would come to work wearing something he had sewn himself. With row upon row filled with bolts of fabric, he felt he was working in heaven. I asked him once if there was anything else, he had wanted to be when he was growing up and he said yes. But after seeing what his mother could do with a needle and thread, he was hooked (pun intended). I admired his determination, just as I admired the determination of the main character in this biographical, dramatic family film. GROWING UP IN A COAL MINING town meant there were only 2 choices high school students had waiting for them by the time they graduated; either earn an athletic scholarship to go to college or work in the coal mines. For Homer Hickam, played by Jake Gyllenhaal (Stronger, Donnie Darko), those choices were waiting for him until he looked up into the sky and saw something that no one had ever seen before. With Chris Cooper (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Adaptation) as John Hickam, Laura Dern (Marriage Story, Little Women) as Miss Riley, Chris Owen (The Mist, American Pie franchise) as Quentin and William Lee Scott (The Butterfly Effect, Pearl Harbor) as Roy Lee; this film festival winner based on a true story had an inspiring story that was wonderfully told through its script. Even at such an early age, Jake already was displaying his formidable acting skills. The whole cast was terrific and with the story set in the 1950s, there was an overall good homey feeling throughout this movie. Despite the predictability that was built into the story, I found this entertaining picture touching and inspirational. It also proved it only takes one event to change one’s life.
3 ½ stars
NOTHING CAUSED ME MORE FEAR IN SCHOOL than having someone shout out that I threw like a girl. To get branded with those words would mean you were going to have an especially rough semester at school. I actually was pretty good in throwing a baseball, but I wasn’t so good when it came to playing basketball. Gratefully, I just passed under the radar whenever we would play basketball in PE class. There was always someone worse than me who would suffer the humiliation of getting the moniker for throwing like a girl. And once you were deemed with that label, no matter what you did in class afterwards was never truly appreciated by the other students. I recall at one point I wondered what the girls did in their PE classes to make fun of a student who was not proficient in a particular sport. Notice, I assumed the girls could be just as mean as the boys; I don’t honestly know why that was my way of thinking. There were a few girls in the school who were bullies. Based on the things I experienced, it was natural for me to think that anyone who showed a sign of weakness or inability would be an open target for verbal abuse. For boys, the quickest cut to another boy was telling him he was a sissy or acted like a girl. TIMES HAVE CHANGED AND NOW THROWING like a girl does not have the same connotation; too bad it took such a long time to evolve. Imagine how many boys could have been spared humiliation from their fellow classmates if they understood girls could throw a ball just as well as boys. I know a father who has a daughter who went to college on a scholarship because she was a top baseball pitcher in high school. During her summer vacation, she would attend baseball camp to perfect her pitches. Her Dad would update me on the locations she and her traveling teammates visited and how well she would do in the baseball game. There were a couple of times where she pitched a no-hitter. After hearing this, I wondered how many men would hope they could pitch as well as a girl? The question I would like to know is what is happening in the classroom? Has mankind expanded its thinking to the point where a male student is told he throws like a girl and the boy says thank you? NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES BEING told she could not compete with men Michelle Payne, played by Teresa Palmer (I Am Number Four, Warm Bodies), knew in her heart she could compete with any man. She just needed someone to take her seriously. This dramatic sport film based on a true story caught my attention because of the movie’s title. With Sam Neill (Jurassic Park franchise, Hunt for the Wilderpeople) as Paddy Payne, Sullivan Stapleton (Gangster Squad, 300: Rise of an Empire) as Darren Weir, Brooke Satchwell (Subdivision, Wonderland-TV) as Therese Payne and Magda Szubanski (The Golden Compass, Kath & Kim-TV) as Sister Dominique; this biographical story had some David and Goliath moments. Fundamentally the story’s arc was not that unusual; what sold me were Teresa’s performance and the action scenes. What was missing for me was seeing more back-story to the Payne family. The scenes that involved the siblings seemed ripe for a further in-depth look at the family. I never really got a sense on where Michelle got her drive. Despite my concerns, knowing this film festival nominated picture was based on a true story made the viewing of it more engaging for me. Also, seeing what Michelle went through to do what she loved was inspiring to me because I appreciated the fact that there essentially should be no preference for a woman or man to try and reach their dreams, whatever they may be.
2 ¼ stars