EVERYONE MOURNS A LOSS IN THEIR own way, is something I learned after I became an adult. I was twelve years old when I experienced for the first time the loss of a person. When I heard the news about their death, I went over to the piano and started playing songs I thought the deceased person would like, while tears streamed down my face. It is a part of life, but the older I got the more exposed I became to experiencing the sense of loss; the loss of a loved one, a pet, a love relationship. Seeing other people’s reactions to a breakup or death, made me realize how personal these situations were for the individuals. I could not take their pain away; however, I could offer comfort in anyway that they saw fit. I just could not tell the mourning person how to feel, because I strongly believe no human has the right to tell another how to feel. There was a funeral I attended where the son was telling his mother how she should feel over the death of her brother. I was within earshot and was taken aback by the son’s “counseling.” It quickly became apparent to me the son strongly disliked his mother’s brother, his uncle. And the fact he was talking out loud like that in front of the mourners was appalling. Granted, I was not privy to the son’s relationship with the uncle; but if it was in such a poor state, the son could have chosen to not attend in my opinion. I HOPE WHAT I AM ABOUT to say is not controversial; but from my experiences, I do not know if I would try to dissuade an individual from wanting to join their deceased person. Just last week, I was told a lovely story about a daughter who had lost their mother. The daughter told me her parents were married when they were both nineteen years old. Except for a hospital stay, they had been together every day of their lives. They loved each other deeply and loved being together. She told me when her father died ten months ago, her mother lost interest in living essentially. She was heartbroken to the point where she lost interest in many things. Having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, she talked about her hopes for joining her deceased husband. As the holiday’s were looming at the end of the year, she stopped eating and drinking. The daughter knew she was hardly eating but did not know the extent. After the start of winter, the mother caught a virus and quickly died. Though the daughter was sad, she found comfort believing her mother was finally back with her father. Love is a powerful force and one can see it in this comedic drama. WITHOUT THE LOVE OF HIS LIFE by his side Otto Anderson, played by Tom Hanks (Cast Away, Saving Private Ryan), became a grumpy old man, who wanted everyone to follow the rules. When a new family moved across the street from him, Otto’s world would be tested in more than one way. With relative newcomer Mack Bayda as Malcolm, Cameron Britton (Stitchers-TV, The Umbrella Academy-TV) as Jimmy, Mariana Trevino (Overboard, Perfect Strangers) as Marisol and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven, Murder on the Orient Express) as Tommy; it was intriguing to see Tom play a curmudgeon. I thought the story was well executed and told. There was a level of predictability which, in my case, may have been due to the fact I saw the original movie this film was based on. Regardless, there were both fun and sad moments in this picture helped by the wonderful pairing of actors. The character Marisol was terrific and a perfect counterpoint to Tom’s character. This was an enjoyable film that had heartwarming elements in it.
MOTHERHOOD AND FATHERHOOD COME WITH EQUAL responsibilities, at least that is how I feel about it. The way I see it, both are equal partners in the raising of their children. Now some of you already know I feel adults should be required to get a license to have a child; it is much harder to raise a child than to drive a car which requires a license. I have seen good and bad examples of parenting. Actually, it would be more like outstanding and horrific examples. One person I know has done a beautiful job in raising their child. The way they explained things to their child provided them with ample information to let the child express their feelings in a healthy way. Let me also add the child’s vocabulary increased greatly to the point their reading level reached far beyond their grade level. Another parent I know has taken their life experiences and used them as examples of what not to do to their child. I could appreciate their method because a good part of their upbringing involved guilt and manipulation. They vowed they would never treat their child the way they were growing up. There are several parents I know who are not trying to be their child’s best friend; they are just being the parents. SADLY, ON THE FLIP SIDE, I have seen too many examples of parenting from poor to horrible. A father who wanted to get revenge on his child’s mother decided to call family services and tell them his daughter is being abused by the mother’s new boyfriend. What transpired next is too much to talk about just in the space of this review; let me just say there were no winners in this struggle. Another parent I know did not recognize the emotional eating their child was doing to themselves. Not that I expect every adult to recognize emotional eating; but don’t you think anything done to an extreme would be a red flag? I also have a hard time with parents who instill their prejudices into their children. Back in elementary school, there was a boy in my class who was anti-Semitic. He not only would verbally abuse students in the class, he would pick on them either by throwing something like paper clips and rubber bands or he would sock them as he passed them in the hallway. I happened to see him at a store with his father, who displayed the same behavior. As I said before, I have seen a wide variety of parenting techniques which is why I could appreciate what the father was going through in this comedic drama. WITH THE SUDDEN DEATH OF HIS wife after giving birth to their child, a father must figure out what would be the best option for raising his child. With Kevin Hart (The Upside, Jumanji franchise) as Matt Logelin, Alfre Woodard (12 Years a Slave, Burning Sands) as Marion, Lil Rel Howery (Get Out, Bad Trip) as Jordan, DeWanda Wise (The Weekend, She’s Gotta have It-TV) as Swan and Melody Hurd (Trick, Them-TV) as Maddy Logelin; this was a surprisingly different role for Kevin to take on and I liked him in it. Not the usual loud, fast talking character in the movie, he showed more dimension than I have seen before. The story is pretty much predictable and could have used more in-depth scenes and character development. With that being said, the script was created with the viewer in mind because it was obvious the writers wanted to pull on the viewers’ heartstrings. This picture may not have been high art, but I did appreciate the way they depicted the trials and tribulations of a single parent. Overall, I did not mind this film at all. Hopefully, Kevin will take on more similar roles that test his acting abilities.
2 ½ stars
IT WAS THE COOLEST ROOM in the house and I am not talking about temperature. As you walked in there was a closet on your left that was long and narrow. Past that was a perfectly square room with only one window near a corner. Around the entire space were vinyl albums; most of them were lined up vertically, filling up bookshelves that were on every wall. Any flat surfaces, such as the top of a dresser or bookcase, had record albums stacked on top of them. It was like walking into a treasure trove of musical history. There were different genres of music to satisfy almost anyone; from classical to Broadway musicals, opera to blues, Top 40 to Jazz. No matter what type of mood one was in, they could always find something among the shelves of records to satisfy themselves. The other thing that stood out in this room was the record player; yes, an actual record player. It was a rectangular box covered in cream colored vinyl that stood on a short pedestal. With a clasp on top, once it was opened it would allow two speakers to swing out on hinges like a double door revealing a turntable that one would need to pull down like a Murphy bed. OUTSIDE OF THIS ROOM THERE was another place I found that had even more vinyl records. It was a small store situated between a clothing store and a barbershop, on a commercial street in a residential neighborhood. More times than not there was at least one cat lounging in the front window. Walking inside the place was like entering a concert hall; there was always music playing from a set of speakers that were hanging in opposite sides of the space. The proprietor was a balding man with a thick beard. Everyone thought he was a genius. You could recite one line of a lyric and he would know what song it was from. If you told him which artist you liked, he would ask you if you heard about another artist that was similar and then go find their album to show you. He had arranged the store with rows of bins without any breaks; so, once you entered a row you could only exit it at the ends. On the walls he had hung posters, all were of musical artists and none of them were hung straight. I had almost forgotten about this store until I saw this film festival winning, musical drama. THEIR LOVE OF MUSIC MADE a special bond between Sam Fisher, played by Kiersey Clemons (Flatliners, Dope), and her Dad Frank, played by Nick Offerman (The Founder, Parks and Recreation-TV), just as his record shop was closing and college looming for her. With Ted Danson (Made in America, Body Heat) as Dave, Toni Collette (Hereditary, The Sixth Sense) as Leslie and Sasha Lane (American Honey, Shotgun) as Rose; I thought this was one of Nick’s better roles. This charming story had a script that was easy with little surprise. Maybe because I admire Toni, I wished the story had incorporated more of her character. Granted she was a secondary character, but I was left feeling there was unfinished business and that is all I will say about it. Kiersey was excellent; I especially enjoyed the songs her character sang. Part of my hesitation for giving this movie a full endorsement had to do with the continuous one level of emotional depth that came across the screen. Sure, there were some touching spots in the story but overall there was not enough drama for me. If nothing else though, I certainly got a kick out of seeing Frank’s record store and listening to some decent music.
2 ½ stars
In my world the most powerful two words to use at the beginning of a sentence are, “I love…” Now I love chocolate chip cookies but that is not what I am referring to here. For a human being to feel and express their love for another human is one of the grand prizes for living; at least that is what I think. There is a poem that has the line, “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all” and I have to agree with it. Some folk may disagree with me, questioning how someone can miss something if they have never experienced it. If I understand, it would be similar to saying how does someone miss or know if they like a sweet tasting food item if they have never tasted one before. Okay, that makes sense to me. However, one of the many advantages to being in love is having the comfort that one’s tightrope walk through life now has a safety net below to catch them if they should fall. There are people who fall in love and remain together until death. When one dies the other chooses to remain single for the remainder of their life; on the other hand, some individuals may have the opportunity to fall in love again. I admire the people in both scenarios. If someone later in life is fortunate to find love all I can say is more power to them. To me it is like walking through a forest and coming upon a large mighty oak tree. It may not have the flexibility of a young sapling but it has a wide reach to protect you along with deep roots that have been filled with knowledge and nourishment throughout the years. RECENT widower Fred Barcroft, played by Christopher Plummer (The Sound of Music, Beginners) was pushed into a new home by his daughter Lydia, played by Marcia Gay Harden (Miller’s Crossing, The Mist). Neighbor Elsa Hayes, played by Shirley MacLaine (Terms of Endearment, Bernie), was quite curious with the quiet gentleman who moved next door to her. This film festival winning movie’s saving grace was Shirley and Christopher. They tried their best, having a few touching moments I might add, to keep the story alive in this comedic romance. There were a couple of parts I enjoyed; however, the story was such a disappointment. It was filled with sappy, predictable, poorly written dialog; this picture could have been so much better. I did appreciate however the idea of folks, who were getting up in years, still making discoveries in their life. Isn’t it amazing what love can do to people?
When two people are in a committed relationship, they negotiate and offer compromises for the sharing of responsibilities. They become a team with each person utilizing their best skills. Though I dislike ironing, I gladly will do the laundry. Before I learned how to cook, I always insisted that I clean up and wash the dishes after a meal. Once that rhythm has been established, things worked smoothly in the household. Imagine what it must be like when you lose your significant other. And if there is a child, it must be overwhelming to have all the responsibilities on your shoulders. When I first received this DVD I was surprised with the casting of Clive Owen (Children of Men, Shoot ‘Em Up) as the father Joe Warr. I thought of him more as a rogue or sinister type for some reason. He was excellent in this role of dad to Artie and Harry, played by newcomer Nicholas McAnulty and George MacKay (Defiance, Peter Pan), inspired by a true story. Set in Australia with some beautifully filmed scenes, Joe had to figure out how to raise his young son Artie after the death of his wife. Though he earned respect as a sportswriter, when it came to his home life Joe did not have the skills to make it all work. It seemed easiest to go with the philosophy of saying yes to most things. When Harry who was his son from his first marriage arrived for a visit, Joe would have to face past mistakes to avoid repeating them. This tender movie had some well done parts. The characters were convincing as each actor did an admirable job. There were several themes going through this movie, such as child rearing, abandonment and the effects from having a loss; certainly one could find something to relate to in this narrative. Parts of the story were stagnant, however; disrupting the otherwise enjoyable viewing experience. Whether one is single, in a relationship, with or without children; there was enough in this film to interest most people. One brief scene with blood.
2 2/3 stars — DVD