MAYBE IT IS PAYBACK OR simply karma from all those years doing nothing when we had a substitute teacher. Not that I did anything disrespectful, but allegedly I instigated a couple of disruptions. My thing back then was to shoot “spitballs” out of a hollow pen. I know that was not right; however, compared to some of the other stunts students did when we had a substitute teacher, my act was almost benign. There was one student who glued the teacher’s handbook to the desk. When the substitute came in and tried to lift the book up the back cover would not budge. The teacher had to spend time slowly trying to scrap the cover off the desk without ripping it too much. Another time we had a substitute who went to write something on the chalkboard but all the chalk and erasers were hidden by a couple of students. It was not easy for a substitute teacher to come in and take over the class for a day or two. For us students a sub meant it was going to be an easy day, at least in theory. FAST FORWARD TO WHEN I BECAME a fitness instructor full time. In the beginning I had my schedule of classes but also would help the other instructors by being a substitute for their classes. Because I am one, I totally get members who want the same thing they are used to with an instructor. Here I walk in and have my own style of teaching; you should have seen some of the faces the members would make to show their displeasure with me. I subbed for a yoga instructor and as I began my introduction a member asked if I could turn off the lights. When I explained I could do it later in the class, after I see how everyone moves in the poses; the member harrumphed, rolled up her mat and stormed out of the room. This was before I even did one pose. It is challenging to fill in for a teacher who is popular with a strong following. When members find someone they enjoy they only want to work out with that particular instructor. If a substitute comes in they must perform at their best and try to win the participants over or at least not lose them 5 minutes into the class. Therefore, I understood and felt bad for the main character in this dramatic sports film. AFTER A TRAGIC ACCIDENT THAT LEFT their volleyball team without a captain it was decided to move Kelley Fliehler, played by Erin Moriarty (Captain Fantastic, The Kings of Summer), into that position. She would not only have to win points but even harder, win over her teammates. This film based on a true story also starred Helen Hunt (The Sessions, As Good as it Gets) as Kathy Bresnahan, Tiera Skovbye (Midnight Sun, Supernatural-TV) as Brie, William Hurt (A History of Violence, Days and Nights) as Ernie Found and Danika Yarosh (Heroes Reborn-TV, Shameless-TV) as Caroline “Line” Found. The story in this picture was inspiring; however, I felt it was not executed to its best advantage. Pretty much this was a straightforward telling of the events and here is where I think the script does not do the story justice. There was nothing different about this film compared to others I have seen with this type of story. Without delving much into the characters, I never felt fully connected to any of them. The parts I enjoyed were the actual volleyball matches. Outside of that there was nothing horrible or great about this movie, which in sports talk I guess would translate it to not being a win or loss but only a tie.
Some of the strongest individuals I have ever met did not have a large amount of physical strength. There were some events that could not be fixed with just the person’s brawn. Teaching in a health club I am constantly exposed to people who test themselves with a variety of weights and cardiovascular machines. Slow and steady they work to increase the amount of weight or duration of their aerobic activity. Essentially everything is under their control which to me makes it easier to build up one’s strength. What demands a tougher strength are affairs of the heart that involve some type of tragic event. Sad occasions weigh the heart down, slowing down its beats, causing the body to buckle under the weight of gravity. I remember a time where my eyes were constantly replenishing water tanks that kept spilling tears over my face, keeping it red and raw. My brain could barely retain any of the images my eyes captured; it felt like my head was turning into an abandoned cold storage locker. Every thought had the life sucked out of it as my heart continued its slide towards a sludge of darkness. At the time I thought my heart would never strike a cheerful chord, but I underestimated it. The heart truly is the strongest muscle in the body. STAGNATION and heaviness was where Conor Ludlow and Eleanor Rigby, played by James McAvoy (X-Men franchise, The Last King of Scotland) and Jessica Chastain (Mama, Lawless), found themselves in their relationship. Remembering what they once had, they could not tell if their hearts would be strong enough to get them through and bring them back to what they once had. This film festival winning drama had a couple of extraordinary actors, Jessica and James, who were able to bare real raw emotions. They really stood out in the cast which also included Viola Davis (Beautiful Creatures, The Help) as Professor Friedman and William Hurt (Into the Wild, A History of Violence) as Julian Rigby. A bit of a surprise was seeing Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins, Her) as Stuart; he has been making smart film choices since leaving Saturday Night Live. With such a strong cast I am sad to say the script and the direction killed any hope of making this movie a powerful piece. This film was a combination of 2 previous movies, from Eleanor’s and Conor’s perspectives called Her and Him. I had to wonder if what was left on the cutting room floor would have helped this film from being a drag. It took a while for me to get into this picture. When I thought about it, it was strange to feel heavy during the movie but it was not coming from my heart.
2 1/2 stars
Look around and you will see the carcasses of lost love. Like the spent cocoons of former butterflies, love does not always last; people sometimes grow out of love in their relationships. Sure it can flourish and last for many years, where the two of you seem to be sailing in the same direction through the currents of life. But things change and your love for each other cools, slipping off of you like the final rays of a setting sun. There is, however, a love that lasts a lifetime and beyond. Even if you are no longer together, you carry your love for them like a comfortable sweater draped around your shoulders. It does not necessary hinder you but its presence always reminds you how love can feel. Within this dramatic fantasy there was a beautiful love story. From the trailers I was not only excited to see this mysterious movie, but I wanted to have a good cry. Yes, I admit I enjoy watching a well done picture that can move me to tears now and then. I thought everything was in place to make it happen with the story in this film. Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks, In Bruges) played a burglar named Peter Lake. Thinking a house was empty, Peter broke in only to be startled by an ailing Beverly Penn, played by Jessica Brown (Albatross, Downton Abbey-TV), who had remained behind from her family. There was something about her that stole his heart. This was writer Akiva Goldman’s (A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code) first attempt at directing and it was one of the major issues I had about this movie. I was so disappointed to see the actors lifelessly move through their scenes. There was a nice chemistry building between Peter and Beverly, but the director never fully utilized it. Russell Crowe (Les Miserables, State of Play) as gang leader Pearly Soames was good, but after I saw who played his boss in this film I just sat in my seat in disbelief. I am sure the book is better and maybe it is hard to translate a century old love story to the big screen; but in more capable hands, I have to wonder if this movie would have been better. Colin gave it his best, working great with his horse, but I did not love this movie like I wanted. Walking away from the theater I could feel my hopes and unrequited love for this film dropping off of me like the petals of a wilted flower.
1 3/4 stars
Beauty beyond skin deep was an underlying message I picked up from this romantic science fiction film. My friends have heard me say so many times, the body is rented. I have always been fascinated to see old photographs of long term partners. To see how their physical appearance could have dramatically changed but not the connection between their hearts is something I truly admire. Stuff like hair color, weight and height are simply frivolous decorations compared to a person’s soul in my opinion. The story in this movie could really have taken the concept of a person’s identity and expanded it. An alien race arrived on earth to inhabit the bodies of humans, replacing their individuality with their own. The process was painless and efficient most of the time; unless the person was strong minded. One such person was Melanie, played by Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones). She had made a promise to see her little brother Jamie, played by Chandler Canterbury (Knowing, Repo Man), again. Would Melanie’s love for him and boyfriend Jared, played by Max Irons (Being Julia, Red Riding Hood), be stronger than an alien invasion? This was not the first time mankind has been invaded in the movies. However, the script was so cheesy and flat; I was bored for the majority of the film. With the writers having Diane Kruger (Unknown, National Treasure) as the Seeker, William Hurt (Dark City, A History of Violence) as Uncle Jeb and Frances Fisher (Titanic,Unforgiven) as Maggie in the cast; it was a shame they did not do some rewriting to give these actors more meatiness to their characters. I have not read Stephenie Meyer’s book this movie was based on, but I suspect it may play like a soap opera as did this film. Saoirse’s acting has been something I have respected. She gave it a good try here, but by the end of the movie I believe she really was not running away from aliens; she was running to get out of this dud. A couple of brief scenes with blood.
1 3/4 stars