PEOPLE REFER TO THEM AS their posse, entourage, gal pals, buddies or a variety of other descriptions. I describe them as my circle of friends or inner circle. These are your group of friends you are close with, who you hang out with the most. There is a small group of friends I have a standing date with where we all get together once every three months. We might get together individually or for some special event between the dates, but we at least know we are guaranteed of seeing each other at a set point in time. However you refer to your friends we all experience something in common and that is what I refer to as an easy comfort. When I am with my group of friends we rarely have to explain our actions or feelings about something because all of us know immediately how each one of us would react in a situation. I find this communication shorthand, if you will, keeps the special bond we feel between us on even keel. THE SAME CAN BE SAID about your coworkers who share that same connection you do with them. In fact I recently read a statistic that was surprising for me: 56% of employees say they would turn down a better job offer because they did not want to leave their “work family.” Don’t you find that statistic interesting? I know for some of us we spend more time with our “work family” than our actual one. Now one thing I have noticed in common between the “work family” and your group of friends is how it doesn’t work the same when someone is not there. The analogy I use is that it feels like a three legged stool with a leg missing. There is a certain type of energy a close group of friends or coworkers feel among themselves that assists in keeping the bonds between everyone strong. When one person is missing it can throw the rest of the group off. If you need to see proof, feel free to see the last of this film’s franchise. IF THOMAS, PLAYED BY Dylan O’Brien (Deepwater Horizon, Teen Wolf), and his friends wanted to get back their friend Minho, played by Ki Hong Lee (Wish Upon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt-TV), they would have to enter into one of the most dangerous mazes they have ever encountered. Chances were they still might not all get back together. This action, science fiction thriller also starred Kaya Scodelario (Now is Good, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) as Teresa, Thomas Brodie Sangster (Love Actually, Nanny McPhee) as Newt and Aidan Gillen (The Lovers, Game of Thrones-TV) as Janson. Having seen the 2 previous installments I found this one was packed with a lot of action scenes. On the one hand I appreciated the fact the movie studio did not decide to split this story into 2 separate films, but this movie still was overstuffed in my opinion. It needed some editing to reduce the 2 hour and 20 minute running time. Another issue I had was the action scenes; after the intense first one, the others did not quite match in intensity. However the story did its part to keep me interested for the most part, though when there were “gun battles” I was amazed how the “bad” guys were incredibly bad shots. After watching this picture it occurred to me I did not feel I was part of the characters’ inner circle; I was more of an acquaintance.
2 ½ stars
HATE DOES NOT discriminate or it just has poor aim. I was standing outside with a group of people who came from diverse backgrounds. We were talking and laughing while deciding where we wanted to go eat. A vehicle driving down the street slowed as it neared us, not that any of us were paying attention to it. A beer bottle flew out the window at us before the vehicle sped away. Luckily no one got hit with glass as it shattered in front of us on the sidewalk, but a couple of people were splashed with beer. There was no reason for it; it wasn’t like we were provoking anyone. You could say it was a random act of violence but I would not believe it. I felt some of the people in our group were the target because I caught a glance of the vehicle’s bumper where there was a sticker. Maybe I was wrong for not mentioning it but I did not want anyone to feel worse or different than anyone else. THE THING THAT puzzles me about hatred is how it gets formed in a person. Having been the victim of both acts of hatred and bullying, I have tried to understand the prejudicial mind or let me say bigot. Why does the life of a complete stranger, who has had no contact with you or whose actions have no bearing on your well being, affect you in such a way to lash out at them? I have thought about this for years; in fact, I still remember a story I heard about a family friend who hated a particular minority group. The reason was because his brother was murdered by an individual of the same minority; that was it. That is one of the reasons why I say hate does not discriminate. I used to think hatred was this laser focused emotion that targeted only a single individual, but it appears to me as if that focus has widened to engulf anyone in its path or intent. And especially when the person filled with hatred is in a position of power it can become intensely lethal. This film’s story is based on true events, so you can see what I mean. THE TIMES WERE volatile as racial tensions rose in the city of Detroit during the late 1960s. From a single sound of a gun going off the guests of the hotel Algiers were subjected to a night of terror. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker), this historical crime drama starred John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Circle) as Dismukes, Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Revenant) as Krauss, Jacob Latimore (Sleight, The Maze Runner) as Fred and Algee Smith (Earth to Echo, The New Edition Story-TV) as Larry. The majority of this movie was filled with heightened tension and anxiety; I was mortified by the things I was seeing on screen thanks to Kathryn’s eye for detail and buildup. She did an incredible job as this picture felt part documentary, part reenactment. The acting from John Boyega and Will Poulter was outstanding. I swear John reminded me of a young Denzel Washington; it was amazing to see him in this role and to see the depth of his acting skills. The same has to be said for Will too. There was a bit of manipulation I felt where the violence and human ugliness were used to move the audience members. Despite feeling that way I still was affected by the story. A majority of people might feel uncomfortable sitting through this film and that would be a good thing.
3 ½ stars
The far reaching white expanse was marred by deep fissures that revealed touches of crystal blue running water. It almost looked like the ice had tears rolling down due to the frigid temperatures. The brightness reflecting off of all this ice made it difficult to shoot photos from my perch inside the helicopter. Once we landed on the ice I had the opportunity to take pictures but only if I left the warmth, comparatively speaking, from inside the chopper. As I stepped outside the still, frigid air settled on me like a bear hug. I felt my blood reversing course to go back and protect my internal organs, leaving my extremities to stiffen up from the cold. To take pictures I had to remove my gloves and I knew my fingers would quickly turn to rock solid stumps. The only way I cold function was to quickly snap multiple photos at a single time, alternating with the taking off and putting on of my bulky gloves. I grew up in a place that had 4 seasons, so I was used to the winter months; however here in Alaska, the cold seemed more intense. Maybe it was because there were no man made structures around just wide open spaces with the occasional rolled up snow drifts and broken ice chunks. Where I was visiting in Alaska there were no human inhabitants; I could not even imagine human life venturing to this area. Pristine and untouched, yet silently able to extinguish life with its icy breath it was all the more reason why I found this dramatic adventure film something special. CLOSE to death from a bear attack Hugh Glass, played by Leonardo DiCaprio (Inception, The Departed), was determined to stay alive in the unforgiving cold frontier. He had a special reason to reunite with his expedition. Inspired by true events this thriller was a monumental production. Included in the cast was Tom Hardy (Legend, Mad Max: Fury Road) as John Fitzgerald, Will Poulter (We’re the Millers, The Maze Runner) as Bridger and Domhnall Gleeson (About Time, Ex Machina) as Captain Andrew Henry; everyone deserved extra credit for the contribution they made to this incredible film. Both the directing and cinematography were outstanding. I especially admired the camera angles that were used in the shooting of multiple scenes. Honestly I do not know how the cast and crew survived such a long film shoot in such an inhospitable locale. There were a few cringeworthy scenes that included blood; I found myself squirming in my seat. Set in the 1820s this was a raw yet beautiful picture; the original soundtrack was a perfect accompaniment. At one point I had to keep reminding myself that the film studio would not want to lose anyone to the brutal elements so there had to be some protection set up for everyone. I have to tell you watching this film was like a workout for me; bundled up in my seat staring and cringing in disbelief.
3 1/2 stars
Have you ever been introduced to someone and a red flag went off in your head that something was just not right? It happens to me periodically. When a close friend introduced a friend of hers to me, my radar went off when he told me he had heard I was a fitness instructor and he was one also. Asking him what type of classes and where he taught, his answers were vague. I started to get the feeling he was not telling me the truth and wondered if he was being honest with my friend, who was interested in him romantically. When she later asked me for my opinion I was honest with her and told her to be careful. It turned out this guy constantly lied to her, so any romantic seeds she had were quickly killed. People withhold the truth or lie for many reasons, just look at the cast in this movie. More than likely you will be glad they were fibbing because you will be laughing at them. Jason Sudeikis (The Campaign, Hall Pass) played drug dealer David Clark. Forced to take a job smuggling marijuana across the border from Mexico, David came up with a plan to turn himself into an RV driving dad on a road trip. Jason’s style of sarcastic humor played well with his role in this comedy. With Jennifer Aniston (Wanderlust, Horrible Bosses) playing Rose O’Reilly as his fake wife, there was Emma Roberts (Wild Child, Nancy Drew) and Will Poulter (Son of Rambow, Wild Bill) as Casey Mathis and Kenny Rossmore, the couple’s pretend children. The four of them created a workable and funny family to watch. I found the script did not provide any surprises; it was easy to see where scenes would go. However, there were parts where I laughed out loud. At a couple of points the story steered towards sentimental drama, but kept things light and brief before retreating back to the humor of the situation. I was concerned the trailers were showing the best parts of this movie; however, it turned out this comedy of crime was good for some easy laughs. Strong language was used throughout the film and a brief scene had a glimpse of blood in it.
2 2/3 stars