STANDING outside the café waiting for a friend I saw a group of people goofing off across the street. One individual was using a street lamp as a stripper pole. Another person had a squirt gun; however, periodically he was squirting it into his mouth and the others around him. I assumed there was something more than water inside the play toy. Seeing this group acting silly made me reminisce about some of the pranks and laughs I had with my friends when we were younger. There was that time in biology class where we had to dissect fetal pigs. A lab partner dressed their pig up with a beret, sunglasses and lit cigarette; then had someone take pictures of him with his head next to the pig. Another time a group of us dressed up for Halloween to go to a street party down in the city. One of us was dressed as a pirate, including a fake sword. He would jump into the street and stop traffic for a moment, shouting “Yo me bucko!” We were so young back then; not a care in the world, just focusing on having a good time. RECONNECTING with people I had not seen for years was a heady experience for me. The last time some of us had seen each other we had full heads of hair, some were larger and others were thinner. It was funny how the aging process affected each of us differently. Despite the years apart there still was a bond between all of us. The thing that surprised me was how some individuals who were hard partiers back then had mellowed now. Depending on the person’s age part of the discussion drifted towards what medications we were on now; heaven help us we are turning into our parents. I understand as life goes on we each take on responsibilities; there are things I used to do back then that I would not consider doing now. Maybe this is all part of the aging process; I just know I would never act like the friends did in this comedy film. JESS’, played by Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers franchise, Lucy), upcoming bachelorette party was the perfect time for a group of girlfriends to get together and let loose. The way they used to party years ago would be hard to reproduce this time. Along with Scarlett the cast included Jillian Bell (Fist Fight, Goosebumps) as Alice, Zoe Kravitz (Divergent franchise, Good Kill) as Blair, Ilana Glazer (The Night Before, Broad City-TV) as Frankie and Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters, Office Christmas Party) as Kiwi/Pippa. At first glance I felt the story was a female version of comedies I had seen before. The cast was talented; everyone’s timing was on mark. I had a slight issue with Jillian and Kate; their characters were no different than other characters they played in other films. Kate, who I think is gifted, seems to be the “go to” actor to play these over the top odd characters. Jillian has played the inappropriate person character before. At least there were a couple of laughs in the movie, but I found the script was all over the place. With this type of cast there could have been way more opportunities to utilize the actress’ comedic skills that the script did not offer. For having such a wild time I was left feeling bored at times. When I was younger I never partied like the women did in this picture and after watching them I have no interest in trying now. There is an extra scene in the middle of the credits and at the end.
1 ½ stars
She did not even give me a chance to show her what I could do. I noticed her looking me up and down as I walked into her office for the interview. After we went over my work history she asked me about my teaching style. I gave her a brief description and offered to give a demonstration. She declined the offer which confirmed by suspicions. The way she looked at me in the beginning told me she was judging me based on my looks. I did not look like the typical fitness instructor because I did not have a smooth chiseled body; I was pudgy (I preferred saying soft and malleable) and hairy with a full beard. She had no idea how committed I would be to the job, nor see how hard I would work alongside the members of the health club. Due to the challenges I had in PE classes during my school years, I pushed myself harder than other fitness instructors. Maybe I was trying to prove a point of just fight my way to acceptance; it probably was a mixture of both. I was upset that this fitness manager was basing her decisions on the way I looked; I wanted to tell her that true good health began on the inside. She had no idea that I was able to teach 3 classes in a row, giving each one of them 100% of myself. Sadly she was not the first person to judge me based on my looks. I understood it; however, it still stung because I was never one to make a judgement based solely on the surface of a person. The main character in this movie could relate I am sure. LIVING in a tough neighborhood was a challenge for high school senior Malcolm, played by Shameik Moore (Joyful Noise, Incredible Crew-TV). Added pressure coming from the upcoming college entrance exams, that he needed to help get him into Harvard, Malcolm took a break by going to a party with his friends. It was a party that would have a major impact on all of them. This film festival winning comedic drama offered a different take on the typical coming of age tale. There was grittiness to the story with the use of some strong language. With Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Perfect Game) as Jib and Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road, Good Kill) as Nakia, the cast was good though I did not always find them believable. The script had a hint of being a screwball comedy in places as certain events unfolded. There were a couple of people who walked out in the middle of this movie. Maybe they had preconceived notions of what this film was supposed to be.
2 3/4 stars
I always watch the way their fingers move like spider’s legs weaving a web. There is a rhythm to it that is not familiar to me. These fingers always belong to a younger person, even those all the way down to 5 year olds. When I see them playing their video games my focus is more on their dexterity than the actual game, especially if the game is filled with guns and violence. I see enough of that in our everyday life. This is the reason why I will not teach any aerobic classes that involve punching and kicking, with titles like aerobic combat or fitness war. I have seen enough people playing video games that I sit and marvel how we created this whole new generation of humans who have this incredible eye and hand coordination; besides video games, where else could they apply this skill? My years of playing piano have given me a certain control over my fingers, but I do not come close to those individuals referred to as gamers. There is one aspect of the video game experience that I am curious about that concerns the long term effects of playing violent games. Will a person become less shocked or even oblivious to seeing violence? Seeing war footage from the various news services, will it only be perceived in a video game context? These are things I think about and this movie could be used as an example for it. AFTER serving several tours of duty as an air force pilot Major Thomas Egan, played by Ethan Hawke (Boyhood, Training Day), found himself sitting in a metal box looking at a video screen all day as a drone pilot. As the level of targets increased something was starting to eat away at his conscience. This film festival nominee was a chilling thriller. I was riveted to the movie screen because I could not tell if I was watching reenacted or real military scenes. The cast which also included January Jones (Unknown, Mad Men-TV) as Molly Egan, Zoe Kravitz (Divergent franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road) as airman Vera Suarez and Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek franchise, Deja Vu) as Lt. Colonel Jack Johns only added to the dramatic tension throughout this film. There was some predictability to the story which slowed the pace down; however, I found Ethan’s performance exceptional enough to power through any of the negatives I had about the script. I really was stunned or maybe I should say enlightened by this whole other world filled with drones. It really gave me food for thought, where I had to wonder what qualifications were needed to become a drone pilot. Do you think military experience will be necessary or will it be more important for the person applying to list gamer on their resume?
Wisdom comes with age and if that is the case then I am still a teenager. Well at least it does when it comes to my driving since I visited South and North Dakota, where they have no posted speed limits. If no one is in the car with me, I am an assertive driver. I cannot understand why cars want to keep getting in my way. Now before you think I am some reckless maniac, I at least do not text or brush my teeth in the car. Except for the driving thing, I was never one for acting out in public. Who knew how true it was when my folks, along with my aunts and uncles, told me I would understand when I got older. If I only had the sense back then that I think I have now. After seeing this dramatic thriller, I wondered if the characters could say the same thing. I do not know if it had to do with not being a party animal or part of the popular group, but I felt old watching this movie. The parties I attended in high school and college were nothing like the ones shown here. Chace Crawford (The Covenant, Gossip Girl-TV) was drug dealer White Mike. Ever since his mother died of cancer, White MIke had stayed on the fringe with his peers. He purposely kept his childhood friend Molly, played by Emma Roberts (Nancy Drew, Wild Child), in the dark about his drug dealing, telling her he worked at his father’s restaurant. When his cousin was murdered, White Mike’s life began to unravel, the effects being felt all around him. I found individual scenes interesting; but when pieced together with Kiefer Sutherland’s (24-TV, The Reluctant Fundamentalist) narration, the drama waned. The acting was decent from Chace and Emma, along with Rory Culkin (Signs, You Can Count on Me) as Chris, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (Real Steel, Morning Glory) as Lionel and Esti Ginzburg (Movie 43) as Sara Ludlow. Part of the problem was director Joel Schumacher’s (The Phantom of the Opera, Phone Booth) reliance on the story being told to us instead of showing it. If teenagers really act like they did in this film, then I am glad I am old. A couple of brief scenes with blood.
2 stars — DVD