THOUGH OUR CONVERSATION TOOK PLACE YEARS ago, I still carry the elderly man’s words with me. The details surrounding our talk are faded and fuzzy after all these years; however, I know we were talking about the death of a mutual friend. It was a sudden death and we were saying how hard a sudden death is for those left behind. The man said something that was profound to me; he said the longer a person suffers towards their end, the easier it is for the living at the time of death. These are words that have been tested for me and it is true. I never want to see someone suffering before their time is done here. The first time I saw where these words were tested was at a nursing home. Seeing the person wilt away in an antiseptic environment, losing their awareness of everything around them; it was heartbreaking. Though they were not suffering in the traditional sense, for it appeared they had no pains or aches, those of us around them felt defeated and beaten because there was nothing, we could do to change things. This was not living, and they were not the person I knew in my younger days. The life in them was draining out to the point where no one would argue with you if you thought they looked like a breathing carcass. THE ELDERLY MAN MENTIONED THAT THE time of his death would be part of the natural order most people have come to expect. He liked to refer to death as a walk into the sunset. What he was saying made sense to me because the grief I was experiencing concerning our mutual friend was different than what I feel towards someone who had lived a long time. When one is living in their younger years, death usually doesn’t have a seat at their table. But, when someone is living in their twilight years, death not only has a seat but eventually becomes an active participant in your mind’s tabletop discussions. When the man was telling me about order, he said in the natural order of things a parent never wants to see their child die and a child always expects their parent to die before them. I thought about that and it made perfect sense to me. From our conversation, I realized grief is not a simple, clear cut function; grief is multifaceted, there are many shades to it and every single person handles grief in their own way. I hope my talking about this subject is not upsetting you; I am simply preparing you in case you choose to watch the incredible performance in this dramatic, film festival winner. A TRAGIC EVENT SENDS A COUPLE into a world of grief that each one handles differently. Will their paths meet during their grieving process? With Vanessa Kirby (Kill Command, The Crown-TV) as Martha, Shia LaBeouf (Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon) as Sean, Ellen Burstyn (Requiem for a Dream, American Woman) as Elizabeth, Iliza Shlesinger (Instant Family, Spenser Confidential) as Anita and Benny Safdie (Good Time, Person to Person) as Chris; the beginning of this movie was one of the toughest things I have had to sit through and watch. Right from the start, I felt engaged with Vanessa and Shia; they were tremendous in their acting abilities. The story may not be original, but the way it was acted out and directed gave it a fresh perspective. Now there were times where I felt the story drifting, particularly more so in the last half; but Vanessa was a force in this picture, she carried the bulk of the work needed to keep the viewers interested in what was taking place. This was not what I would call an “up” type of film, but it was a good example of seeing someone go through the grieving process.
3 ¼ stars
I QUICKLY GOT USED TO THE DIFFERENT personalities on staff, but I was not prepared for the conflict that arose between my supervisor and me. The fitness instructors were an eclectic group of individuals. One person was a heavy smoker; her voice was deep and gravelly. I always knew when she had recently taught a class in the fitness studio because the room reeked of nicotine and tobacco odors. It must have poured out of her when she was sweating. Another instructor was a clothes horse; she never wore the same outfit twice as far as I could tell. Since this was one of the first jobs I had gotten regarding fitness, I was hyper-aware of everyone and everything in the fitness club. Every bit of information I could gain would only benefit me was my assumption. It was difficult for me to feel comfortable at the fitness center after having flunked gym class twice in school. I had a mindset where I felt I was not capable of leading a fitness class and imagining the members would call me out as a fraud. As it turned out my past experiences became a huge asset for me. Members could relate to my struggles with weight, peer pressure and other food related stories because I would share them with the class. AS MY POPULARITY ROSE AND CLASS sizes increased, I became comfortable in my role as a fitness instructor. However, what I did not expect was to get pushback from my supervisor. She would catch me after class sometimes to tell me I should be doing “such and such” differently or I needed to follow a procedure different from what I was told originally. I took her help as advice to help me be a better instructor; however, it turned out not to be the case. Having started with only a couple of classes at the fitness center, I soon wound up teaching 13 classes a week. Considering I had flunked PE twice in school; I was in heaven. I loved teaching classes besides the big benefit of controlling my weight. As the weeks passed by a couple of members would come up to me after class to tell me about unfavorable comments, they heard my supervisor say about me. I was stunned to say the least. Instead of being adult in my thinking, I said disparaging things about her. This became a vicious cycle of back and forth until the program director called both of us into his office. Looking back now, I could have handled the whole situation a different way instead of the negative comments back and forth. I am embarrassed to say I saw a little of myself in the main characters of this action, adventure movie. HAVING HAD RUN-INS BEFORE WITH EACH other, the last thing Luke Hobbs and Deckard Show, played by Dwayne Johnson (Skyscraper, Central Intelligence) and Jason Statham (The Meg, Spy), wanted to do was work together on an assignment. They had no choice if they wanted to save the world. This film also starred Idris Elba (The Mountain Between Us, Luther-TV) as Brixton, Vanessa Kirby (About Time, The Crown-TV) as Hattie and Helen Mirren (Anna, The Leisure Seeker) as Queenie. The action and fight scenes were pretty much the stars of this picture. Though I enjoyed both Dwayne and Jason with their smack talk, it started to get old for me after a while. My favorite actor, which surprised me, was Vanessa Kirby; I thought she had the most depth as a character plus her fight moves were amazing. Helen, of course, was fun but there was not enough of her in the story. As for the story and script, they were both weak and flimsy. The dialog was embarrassing at times. It was simply made to provide Jason and Dwayne with a road to follow; they provided the landscape. If you are up for mindless fun, then this movie would be fine to see at the theater; but, if you want something more, then hold off for a more intense or better written story. There were a couple of extra scenes in the middle and end of the credits.
2 ½ stars