I SAW THE REQUEST POSTED ON ONE of my social media sites. The person was asking for suggestions and recommendations on food delivery services. They wanted to place an order for food to be delivered to an elderly couple, who did not have the ability to leave their home during the state’s shelter in order. Besides the generosity of this person’s request, the other thing that impressed me was the immediate response they were getting from so many people. As I read through the comments, I discovered this request started because the person’s first choice of a delivery service cancelled the order because they could not fulfill it due to several items being out of stock. What struck me about this was the fact the response was coming from a major grocery store chain. I soon discovered, based on the posted conversations going back and forth, that the items out of stock were some basic household items, along with some fresh fruits and vegetables. This struck me as odd since those items, at least in my experiences, have never been out of stock; especially, the household items which are produced by several different manufacturers. I wondered how long it was going to take this person to find all the items they needed to send to the elderly couple; I hoped it was not going to turn into the type of scenario where they were trying to beat the clock before the elderly couple went hungry. LITTLE DID I KNOW READINGTHOSE comments were only going to be a prelude to what I would encounter when I went to buy groceries. The first thing I noticed when I was walking inside the grocery store was the amount of people who had scared looks on their faces. They were walking up and down the aisles staring forlornly at the empty spaces that popped up periodically along the shelves. The magnitude of the situation did not hit me until I discovered there were no bananas or sweet potatoes to be found anywhere; I could not process this fact. Later on I found out the reason for the absence of these two items was because parents were buying them up to mash into food to feed to their babies. Continuing on my way through the store, I saw polar opposite examples of people’s compassion during a crisis. In one aisle I saw a shopper with a cart brimming over with items. Each item was in multiple amounts, for example 5 bottles of salad dressing. Unless they were buying for multiple families, I felt they were being greedy during these scary times. Soon after I saw a shopper in the checkout line who had 4 loaves of bread in their cart. They were talking to the person behind them and whatever was said, I saw this shopper take one of the loaves out of their cart and hand it to the person behind them. Wow, it looked like an act of kindness. Similar examples to the ones I just mentioned can be found in this film festival-winning movie from South Korea. PASSENGERS ON A BULLET TRAIN BOUND FOR a resort town are confronted with the fact they may not make it due to the zombies that got on board. With Yoo Gong (Finding Mr. Destiny, A Man and a Woman) as Seok-woo, Yu-mi Jung (A Bittersweet Life, Psychokinesis) as Seong-kyeong, Dong-seok Ma (The Outlaws; The Gangster, The Cop, The Devil) as Sang-hwa, Su-an Kim (The Battleship Island, Memories of the Sword) as Soo-an and Eui-sung Kim (Wiretap, Six Flying Dragons-TV) as Yon-suk; this action horror thriller was a complete surprise to me because of its heart. With any zombie movie, one gets the idea of what is going to happen; however, with this story, I found the script added depth to its characters. The different side stories of individual people allowed me to become more engaged with their plight. Add in the skillful action and this picture turned out to be a mirror to the times we are living in presently. There were scenes that showed blood and violence; but I did not find them to be the usual gory type one finds in horror films. Whether it is unseen viruses or zombies, both bring out people’s true natures. Korean was spoken with English subtitles.
3 ¼ stars — DVD
WE WERE STRANGERS SITTING TOGETHER IN a car on our way to a convention but would be connected for the rest of our lives, by the end of the trip. It was early in the morning before rush hour traffic as we headed to the location. After exiting the highway, we were on a street that was lined with industrial buildings. Up ahead there was a car parked at an odd angle alongside the curb; its tail end was stuck out into our lane. Coming up alongside of it, we both noticed the driver was slumped over the steering wheel. My companion yelled for me to pull over and she jumped out the door before I came to a complete stop. I soon joined her as she was tapping the driver’s shoulder, asking if he was okay. The driver roused from what appeared to be a long sleep because he was groggy, and his voice sounded gravelly. However, his speech was slurred. I immediately called 911 as my companion tried to see if the driver could move any of his limbs. By the way, my companion was a health professional. An ambulance soon showed up. After explaining how we found the driver, the two of us got back into our car and continued to the convention. However, something changed in us as we talked about what just happened. From that moment forward a connection formed between us where we would seek out the other at these business conventions. SHARING AN EXPERIENCE CUTS THROUGH MUCH of the introduction process in my opinion. Though less dramatic, I enrolled in a workshop where I found myself not knowing any of the participants. When the facilitator asked everyone in the room to pair up, I turned to the person next to me and asked if she wanted to work together. She agreed and we walked over to an open space of the room where we would get further instructions. There was to be an abundance of physical activity through the workshop, where we would have to assist our partners with hands on instruction. Some of the exercises were intense where I did not know if I could complete them; however, my partner constantly encouraged and helped me to finish. Spending the entire day together, helping each other with challenging tasks; by the end of the session we felt a comfort with each other that led to a friendship and a sense of being family. We wound up working together at the same facility and everyone there thought we were brother and sister because we were so similar. I referred to her as my work sister. It goes to show you one does not need bloodlines to form a family. SURVIVING THESE PAST YEARS THROUGH THE zombie invasion turned the ragtag group of individuals into a small family unit. But as a family, would they be strong enough together to combat the evolved zombies who were stronger and smarter? With Woody Harrelson (Shock and Awe, Solo: A Star Wars Story) as Tallahassee, Jesse Eisenberg (The Hummingbird Project, The Art of Self-Defense) as Columbus, Emma Stone (La La Land, The Favourite) as Wichita, Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island, August: Osage County) as Little Rock and Zoey Deutch (Before I Fall, Set It Up) as Madison; this action, horror comedy sequel had some fun parts in it. I enjoyed the cast immensely, smiling at their snarky sarcastic remarks. The spirit of the first film was present in this one, only it did not feel fresh and new. However, it seemed as if the cast was having fun; so, I was able to travel with them during this mindless ride…so to speak. There was nothing earth shattering here; if you enjoyed the first film then you would probably like this one. For new viewers into comedy horror, good chance you will become a fan of this family unit. There were a couple of extra scenes during and at the end of the credits.
2 ¾ stars
When I put food on my dinner plate, I do not want the different servings I took to touch each other. For example, I do not want the mashed potatoes to be mixed in with the sugar snap peas, nor do I want anything touching my turkey burger. It is okay, you can call me crazy; I have heard it before. I do not care because the first time I saw a TV dinner tray with its individual compartments for the different food items, I thought it was the ideal way to serve people their meals. Being a visual type of eater, if something does not look good to me I will not touch it. Now I certainly do not force my feelings onto anyone else and will gladly sit with someone who is spooning a conglomeration of food items into their mouth. Actually, it never occurred to me to mix different foods; heck I did not think one could mix different silverware. If you are wondering if I have these same types of rules in other areas of my life the answer would be yes. I have always been most comfortable when things around me have a sense of symmetry. Now here is the funny thing; though I am still the same way about food, a slow change has been taking place in me over the past years when a friend asked me if I had seen this video mashup of two singing artists’ songs. I had never heard that word before so I looked it up and found it meant a mixture of disparate elements. When I finally saw that video I was fascinated; it was such a creative and cool idea. It is because of that video I started looking at things differently. Isn’t that bizarre? Is it any crazier than the mashup done in this romantic horror film? WHEN Elizabeth Bennet, played by Lily James (Cinderella, Broken), first met Mr. Darcy, played by Sam Riley (Maleficent, On the Road), she found him to be such a snob. Though her mother was hoping to see her daughter wedded off, Elizabeth did not need a man; she could take care of herself quite well as a matter of fact. I was so surprised by this action movie that took author Jane Austen’s (Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park) classic story and infused it with the zombie genre. The story pretty much was kept intact but I did enjoy the sly humor and the fact that Elizabeth and her sisters were now skilled in the marital arts. The writers were not going for a parody or comedy; they kept the story as level as one can with flesh eating zombies and they made it work actually. Take the story for what it is, this film may not be high art or a new classic; but for a fun viewing experience with a twist and a teardrop, this mashup was pretty good. Several scenes with blood and violence.
2 1/2 stars
My version of scouting and the scouts has not been updated for many years. So please understand I mean no disrespect or ill will towards them. When I think of the scouts, images form in my mind of boys and girls helping elderly people across busy streets or carrying grocery bags out to shoppers’ cars. The other thing that comes to mind is scouts sitting around campfires that were started by rubbing two sticks together or a single scout tying intricate knots out of a piece of rope. During my childhood I was asked at one point if I would like to join the scouts and I remember replying no. There was something about their uniforms that creeped me out. I did not like the idea of everyone wearing the same outfit like a military unit. Now you would think that is odd for someone who loved playing with toy soldiers, but my soldiers were not only trained for combat but they had the ability to fly. Scouts to me just looked like an ordinary group that enjoyed camping which I never liked even as a small boy. The idea of sleeping on the ground in a bag in a tent used to gross me out. So you can imagine how digging a hole and covering up my waste products, whether it was true or not, would make me feel. Putting these memories aside, what remains are wholesome scenes of exploring forests, canoeing down streams and making s’mores. It is because of these thoughts I especially found the idea for this comedic horror film funny. WITH their small town being taken over by zombies childhood friends and scout mates Ben, Carter and Augie; played by Tye Sheridan (Mud, The Tree of Life), Logan Miller (Deep Powder, I’m in the Band-TV) and newcomer Joey Morgan; would have to use what they learned in the scouts to defend their town. This film festival nominee appeared at first to be a fresh take on the zombie genre. I thought the actors played their roles perfectly to reflect the feelings and antics of teenage boys. There were a few scenes that produced a chuckle or smile in me; however, shortly into the film the story fell apart and became a cliched run of the mill zombie story. Sarah Dumont (Don Jon, Playing it Cool) was the female eye candy as Denise and David Koechner (Get Smart, Paul) played nerdy scout leader Rogers who had a secret; they were standard characters in my opinion. I really wished this movie would have taken more risks because I think it could have been fun to watch, though there wer several gross scenes filled with blood and violence. In addition, I understand the movie studio is testing a new formula by releasing this picture early for home viewing. Maybe they would be better off not resurrecting it. Lots of blood shown in this film and the R rated trailer.
Evolution may not be working in our favor after all. So many times I have heard, the only thing that will still be around centuries from now will be insects–cockroaches in particular. With an increased threat coming from newly discovered super bacteria and aggressive diseases, one has to wonder how safe mankind will be on this planet. I have already taken precautions by not letting anyone use my pen or telephone and I avoid all salad bars and buffets. Now according to this movie there is an even bigger threat to all of us. In one of the better suspenseful openings I have seen in an action movie, I was swept up into the drama of this story. Brad Pitt (Killing Them Softly, Moneyball) played United Nations investigator Gerry Lane. About to take a road trip with his wife Karin, played by Mirelle Enos (Gangster Squad, The Killing-TV), and their two children; Gerry would have to abandon them when Assistant Secretary General Thierry Umutoni, played by Fana Mokoena (Hotel Rwanda, Safe House), requested Gerry’s help in tracking down the source of the zombie attack on Philadelphia. Brad was very good playing a stoic, older action figure persona in this adventure film. The other stand out for me was Daniella Kertesz (Loving Anna-TV, Ha-Emet Ha’Eroma-TV) as Segen, the soldier assigned to protect Gerry. In the beginning of the movie, I found the special effects incredible as this constant tidal wave of zombies came across the movie screen. The surprise was how the director kept up the tension and suspense without the need of blood and gore, to scare the audience. Unfortunately, a film cannot sustain itself without a solid story and here was the wink link. I never really understood what Gerry had done for the United Nations that led him to be their “go to” man. The world aspect of this story was great, but there was no depth; it started to become one chase scene after another, after another. I heard the book was quite different then this movie. Also, the ending had to be re-written and reshot. It appeared as a lead-in for a sequel. The use of scientific logic in this film was a brilliant idea…and a scary one at the same time. There were a couple of brief scenes with blood.
2 3/4 stars
Love is coming home where a warm hug is waiting to brush the trying day off of you. Waking up to a gentle protective breath on your neck that kept dark dreams away through the night is love. Comfort in knowing that if you make a mistake it will not diminish one’s love for you. Even the unexpected card filled with caring thoughts is a form of love. Taylor Dayne’s song “Love will Lead you Back” would be apropos to describe this romantic comedy. From the director of 50/50, Jonathan Levine created a funny horror movie that was a relative to the story of Romeo and Juliette. Nicholas Hoult was the unusual zombie named R. On a night of feasting on humans; R became enthralled with Julie, played by Teresa Palmer (The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Bedtime Stories), after making a meal of her boyfriend. Determined to protect her, R formed an unexpected relationship with Julie that would change the world. But R did not know Julie’s father Grigio, played by John Malkovich (Burn After Reading, Con Air), was the leader of the human zombie killers. I was totally taken by surprise with the smart and witty dialog. Nicholas and Teresa were perfectly matched, adding authenticity to their characters. Playing R’s friend M, Rob Cordday (Cedar Rapids, W.) was wonderful in his role, coming up with some great lines. My only regret was the small amount of screen time Analeigh Tipton (Damsels in Distress, The Green Hornet) had playing Julie’s friend Nora. A very entertaining film that was rated PG-13 had brief scenes of blood and gore. I was completely surprised by this fun movie. Who knew this zombie film came with a big heart.
All these years I thought I was big stuff because I could hold my own against the Space Invaders video game. Then Alice came along and burst my bubble. I may not have played the video game this movie was based on, but I felt I had once I saw this action film. Also, this is only the 2nd movie I have seen in the Resident Evil movie franchise. The film started where the last one left off, showing us the previous ending scene in slow motion reverse. With this installment we find Alice, played by Milla Jovovich (The Three Musketeers, The Fifth Element) was mother to hearing impaired Becky, played by Aryana Engineer (Orphan). Alice was living life as a suburban housewife until the neighborhood was attacked by flesh eating zombies. It turned out Alice was being held in a secret testing location by the Umbrella Corporation, keepers of the T-Virus. For Alice to escape out of her holding cell, she would need the help of an insider and former friends. The first impression I had while watching this action film was how long could Milla keep up the physical stamina the role demanded? Presently, I believe Alice would be in the top 3 for being the toughest female action hero on screen today. The action stunts were plentiful, with some in fast motion and others done slowly. The primal story had holes in it that did not explain some things to me, but I do not think it mattered. I found the acting stiff and wooden for the most part, but again so what? The film was meant to be a visual explosion of special effects and action; it succeeded in that regard. This was nothing more than a video game on the big screen, without the joystick.
1 3/4 stars
Imagine the possibility that there was something more to those people who had an imaginary friend as a child, or possibly as an adult. What if our imaginary friends were actual people from the past? I, for one, wish I could talk to deceased relatives or historic famous people; what an incredible opportunity it would be. Norman Babcock, voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, The Road), talks to dead people. His deceased grandmother, voiced by Elaine Stritch (Monster-in-Law, Autumn in New York), could be found seated on the family sofa knitting away, but only Norman could see her. It was this ability that made Norman stand out, but not in a good way. His schoolmates made fun of him, he had no friends; even his sister Courtney, voiced by Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air, 50/50), considered him a nerd. Norman pretty much was a loner except to the dead people around him. I was immediately drawn to the story due to Norman being different and a loner, a kindred spirit. The tale was about whether Norman could prevent the destruction of his town by zombies, ghosts and a witch’s curse. I do not know if it had to do with the wonderful stop motion filming used for this exciting movie, but I enjoyed everything about it. From the quick humorous one-liners, to the great visuals; seeing this film was absolute fun. I believe an entire family would enjoy this creative movie, with the exception of very young children below the age of five. And for those of you, who still have imaginary friends, feel free to bring them along for a a wildly good time.
3 1 4/ stars