It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Review

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Have you ever felt a happy glow of joy in your soul? Perhaps a kiss or a special moment caused that glow of joy in your soul to occur. A giant glow of joy in my soul descended upon my soul during and at the conclusion of It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a true story of a troubled man who was able to heal with the help of the wondrous Mister Rodgers whom he was asked to interview on a story about heroes. It’s hauntingly beautiful the way Fred Rodgers teachers Lloyd to cope with his feelings, and I believe we all need someone in our lives to help us in this way. Watching this film caused time to stop for me. I was transported into a new world of both joy and pain, and I learned how joy helps conquer pain and how grief is a natural yet difficult part of life. Fred Rodgers swims, prays, writes letters, in order to cope with death, divorce, and war- because “it gets dark” as Lloyd says. The task of learning how to cope with pain and strife and turn our life into the best possible thing it could be is the lesson of this film. “Sometimes, just sometimes we get to change a broken world with our words.” That is what Lloyd states and is also able to do with his words as he is assigned an article on heroes and Mister Rodgers is chosen. We witness the life of Lloyd and the life of Mister Rodgers unfold and become interwoven until it creates this warm quilt of love.

Are you happy is a good question that this movie poses and both men spend the movie on a journey to seek happiness in a sometimes cruel, cold world. “Oh God, Lloyd please don’t ruin my childhood,” Lloyd’s wife says when referring to the piece he is writing about heroes, and he writes something that charms the entire nation and touches hearts. During the interview, Mister Rodgers says “When I focus into in that camera I try to speak to a single child at a time and focus on their needs”. One of the needs is met when Mister Rodgers says “Do you know what that means to forgive? It means to release a person from the anger we feel. Sometimes it’s the hardest to forgive someone we love.” Mister Rodgers is leading a lesson on forgiveness, one we could all learn from. Fred Rodgers tells Lloyd and the audience this to try in an effort to reach into Lloyd’s pain and attempt to help him heal. The interview continues with: “What brought you back to the show?” Lloyd asks mister Rodgers. “I realized that there was still so much to talk about,” Mister Rodgers says, and follows that up by saying. “If we could through television programs and all other programs show that everyone is precious” It gets personal when he says to Lloyd after breaking down the walls he put up, “I’m sure if she saw you today the person you became, she would be so proud.” Fred is talking to Lloyd about his deceased mother.

“A hospital is where you go when your body is hurt, but where do you go when your feelings are hurt?” is a question posed by Mister Rodgers. I think the answer to that poignant question is Turning Point, and I would also add that’s where you go when your mind hurts, because I know mine does sometimes. The scene where Lloyd’s father Jerry is in his apartment and Lloyd is frozen in anger broke my heart after Lloyd’s dad said “I may never come back here” Lloyd’s father begins trying to ask for forgiveness, but then he collapses and everything goes in slow motion. Lloyd and his wife are staying with Lloyd’s dying father. It’s the silent calm sadness that washes over me and I watch Lloyd staring off and thinking about all the things in his life – past, present, and future all at once while he feeds the newborn child he has. “I like you as you are, exactly as you are. Exactly and precisely as you are no doubt or question,” is the most beautiful soothing lullaby I have ever heard, as Lloyd sings to Gavin.

Then the theme of forgiveness comes full circle as Lloyd’s father asked Lloyd to forgive him for leaving him and his sister and his mother was dying. The theater grew silent and I gasped. And then I heard those beautiful three words that a human can say to another and caused that glow of their soul – I love you. Lloyd’s article about Mister Rodgers, his interaction with him changed his trajectory in life. Then Mister Rodgers visits Lloyd and his dying father and that when tears began rolling down my cheek, because for that moment in that theater on that screen my faith in humanity was restored. Thank you, Tom Hanks, for recreation of a beloved character and absolutely made in a beautiful day in the neighborhood for all who experience and will experience this film. “Fame is a four-letter word like tape or face. It’s what you do with it that matters” – Tom Hanks and Mister Rodgers never let fame get to their heads and that is absolutely incredible feat to accomplish, to be humble and when given a platform to speak to make sure that you reach the most vulnerable people, children. I also learned that “death is sometimes we fear but it is human and anything human is manageable”, is something Fred Rodgers shares. Lloyd talks about himself as being a part of a group of broken people. “I don’t think you are broken – you are a man of conviction a man who knows what is wrong and what is right and know that your father helped shape those convictions and helped shape who you are” is what he says, allowing Lloyd a deeper connection and some much needed closure. As Mister Rodgers drives off, Lloyd does the sign language for friends that he was taught and as Mister Rodgers drives away, he drives straight into my heart as he truly embodies what it means to be a hero, true to the article that Lloyd wrote. “If you think of him as a saint that his way of being is unattainable”- Joan Rodgers says of her husband. In a way Mister Rodgers was a saint, but he was human and was capable of deep love and understanding which he spread through the world through his television show, and the joy he brought to so many was captured brilliantly in this film. Thank you for this precious gift you have given the world. As Mister Rodgers said “it’s such a good feeling to be alive” and this movie gave me an incredible rush of feeling alive.

Two Face (Throwback to my first review)

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How can you enjoy living when everything around you is swirling dangerously in a cyclone? This question plagued me as I witnessed The Social Network. When I saw the preview I was so excited for this film I stood in place, forgetting about the world around me. The song creep by Radiohead, remade by Scala, explains Mark Zukerburg so well! (I don’t belong here.) It is so much about friendship, betrayal, and life, and not centered around facebook completely. The themes of greed and loneliness travel throughout. In fact I do not have a facebook account and I truly enjoyed this film. The main Mark Zukerburg, is introverted and is starving to belong to a sorority, The Phoenix. His friend gets invited and this is where they start to drift apart. Mark is SO angry that he is not in. Although Eduardo has the money so he is important. I can feel the tension cutting the air and see it. The non-verbal eye contact in this film is astounding! This film’s director (who has done Zodiac and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) brilliantly takes us through a series of flashbacks between the deposition and what led up to it as we see Eduardo and Mark’s friendship dissolve because of the creation of “the facebook” which just becomes “facebook”at the suggestion of Sean Parker. He is in the film long enough to leave me impressed. He created Napster, is broke, and is a villain!
Played masterfully by Justin Timberlake who I expected to butcher his role, did a remarkable job as the puppet master of this movie. Although Eduardo tries to warn Mark, Sean Parker has him strung on by the end of their first meeting at a restaurant as Mark hangs on to every word. Eduardo is our hero in the story but he cannot save Mark because Mark has been taken by computers, technology and greed. The movie shows Harvard’s beauty but human cruelty. When three Harvard elites want Mark to help them launch a website, he agrees. They end up suing although I watched as one of the twins did not want to sue for the longest time because he “was a gentleman of Harvard”. The lawsuits really interested me, and although this movie goes so quickly, everything is a joke to Mark. The cinematography, the lighting, and the quick way that Zuckerburg talks are all absolutely genius. There was an empty theater but I adored so much about what this film means. Mark Zuckerburg is truly two-face, pretending friendship, but hypnotized to making a name for himself. 500 million friends now, by to whom is he really connected to? I feel like he has become a computer a robot, with no emotion. Even if you do not like Facebook like me, you might find this film captivating. So blinded by compulsiveness Mark dies inside. This move truly displays acting and images that left me pondering and awestruck. It is blended with rich fragrant spices of sex, alcohol, violence, and, fury. After all the lawsuits it is about this – “young people who will stop at nothing to get what they want.”

Throwback: Hidden Figures

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I still recall seeing the trailer for this movie and being particularly excited about the concept: Three women of color with brilliant minds overcoming racism to use their brilliant minds to get a man in space at the NASA program. In addition to keeping our rivalry with Russia very clear, the movie Hidden Figures did something I was surprised with because it did a good job focusing on the work lives of the three women. Often, movies with strong women still put emphasis on their family and this movie did a nice job of showing their families in a pleasant way that helped us gain perspective on them as women. However, it was more in the background and their crowning achievements in their careers were celebrated in this movie. Kate was extremely good at math and worked in that department at NASA. She was a widow with three children and she was asked to check the equations of an all white male division of NASA. She had to overcome the adversity of the colors only coffee pot the men installed one day, and the biggest struggle she had to get her work done was the bathroom situation. The colored bathroom was almost a mile away in another building. This becomes a problem because she cannot effectively do her work, with the amount of time spent running to the bathroom.
Kevin Costner had a wonderful role as a mentor of sorts, I thought, being kind to Kate, the mathematician. But, unfortunately, I found out that his character was not part of a true story. He was a “white hero” invented by Hollywood and based on the texts I am read in college, it was particularly difficult to deal with the fact that they couldn’t stay true to the history and create a white hero who knocks down the colored bathrooms sign, but in real life that didn’t even happen. The adversity these three women faced as women of color is clear from the beginning with their car breaking down and the white male police officer demanding respect. Sadly, in a more passive aggressive way, the second brilliant woman is denied a promotion and it is clear the tension between the white and black women in this movie. The third women, who wants to be an engineer has to take courses at what is a segregated high school. So, to achieve her dream of becoming an engineer she must petition the courts to allow her to study at an all white school. Despite all the backlash and struggle, these three women were pioneers of math, computers, and engineering. I only wonder if they weren’t held back so much if they could have achieved even greater things if their race was not in the way.

Baby Driver: Go see it Now!

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A dancing young man appears in the first scene

Lost in a world of music

An I-pod for every mood

Does the crime, a getaway driver

Or does he?

Meets not a girl but, the girl

His heart does a twirl

His rare words come out and they connect

The juices in his stomach swirl

And then the movie really takes off

Ansel Elgort is truly brilliant. You may doubt him. You may doubt this film. I am telling you he was born to play Baby. I am pretty speechless weeks after seeing this movie. It is a wonderful action movie. I was in awe. The cast was on point and the cinematography is jaw dropping and truly something to behold. Whether you want romance, action, or a thriller, this movie is for you!

Go to the theater and see Baby Driver!

A rare gem: Beatriz at Dinner

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A lot came to my mind when watching this film yesterday. The film wrapped my senses in a way that I’m not used to. The concept was simple, a woman’s (Selma Hayek) car is broken down so she will stay for dinner where she drove a long way to act as a healer through massage for a wealthy woman. But, this is a healer that works for a very well off woman and her family and the class divide is painfully obvious and even pointed out by John Lithegow’s character who is brilliant as a villain (or is he?). Truly, the audience is meant to pass judgment on his character and whether they agree with the way Beatriz views him after mingling at the party. It is not a Hollywood blockbuster, a thriller, a comedy, or a romance. This film has the genius of floating completely underneath the radar. I spoke to the librarian where I volunteer and she said, “Oh, if you enjoyed The Big Short, you will enjoy Beatriz at Dinner.” Her assessment was spot on. The movies couldn’t be more different but having the same message in the end about the dark side of money, wealth, and power. While the dinner party is composed of several guests, this film gives brilliant insight into their personalities as well as managing to keep Beatriz as the main character. Hayek captives utterly in this film, and that is one reason I believe it is one to see. I don’t want to explain much because I want to encourage everyone to see this film. I believe it is a wake up call about society, about the 1% taking too much, and about appreciating what you get in this life and holding onto it. This film accomplishes that in a gentle, yet profound way. The movie is definitely out of the norm and not what I expected. It isn’t being advertised non stop on tv and that would take away from the way this movie is. It is a rare gem, and I think you should go experience this journey.

Baywatch: A total letdown

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This review will be brief because I truly don’t want to spend more time on this film. I know King Arthur was voted the first big flop of the summer but I would argue (while I haven’t seen it) that Baywatch was the biggest flop of the summer. This movie tries too hard to be funny and I sat there staring at my watch thinking, am I really seeing what I am seeing. Dwayne Johnson and Zac Efron both disappoint and I have seen them in other films. The scripts were pretty lame, and neither character has much depth to them. Truly, I felt that there was no substance to this movie. It objectives women and the plot makes little to no sense. Okay, the plot actually makes zero sense. All the characters were pretty flat. I know this will sound harsh, but I felt like I was watching the idea for a film, and not an actual finished production. It was very sloppy, not funny, and very cheesy (and not in a good way). All I can suggest at this point is that you don’t see this movie, in theaters or otherwise.

I would recommend Wonder Woman instead. (See my review of that epic and brilliant film)

Worth the Wait: Wonder Woman, an inspiration! 

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When I entered the theater to see Wonder Woman I didn’t know my expectations would be exceeded so much. This movie I declare as a remarkable hit and has great life lessons beyond the magic of the theater. The movie Wonder Woman was so inspirational and absolutely brilliant. I was completely blown away, from the beginning where young Diana begins her training to going to the front to save people from suffering in the world to end all wars once she grows up and is faced with real danger. Not just because it shows woman kick butt. But because of how the iconic character of Wonder Woman brought to life by Gal Gadot. The dialogue was really well done, and Chris Pine was able to create a great character in Steven. His pack of misfits that he brings on the journey are also well developed. The movie is packed with action and brilliant cinematography. The scenes with the bath from Diana’s native land, juxtaposed with the battle scenes later in the film show the remarkable range this movie has. It’s extremely witting, intelligent, and entertaining. She says, “I’m willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves”. In this way and many others, Diana shows cunning, caring, and strength. When she is questioned, she says “I am man.” This sends a powerful message to all women about the strength that we do have as women that we need to embrace and harass to make the world a better place. Just because we cannot save the world like Wonder Woman because we don’t have her powers, doesn’t mean we can’t still to great things as regular people making a difference as strong, courageous women. The work that is so often done by men is done by one woman in this movie, and it demonstrates how that can translate to real life. We need to ignore those who believe we can’t and prove them wrong with actions, like Wonder Woman does over and over. It goes without saying that I say, Wonder Woman is a 100% worth seeing! I give it two thumbs up!

X-men: (a review I forgot to post)

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X-men Days of future past exceeded my expectations in every way. I am sure many people were skeptical of this film as many of my friends were unsure of whether to bother at all. I say, bother. See this movie. The movie begins ominously and it appears the X-men are finished. It is raw with emotion and a beautiful soundtrack. “Humanity has always feared those that are different.” This quote strikes a chord with so many of us. Anyone who has ever felt lost and alone or like they didn’t believe will watch X-men and realize they have the power to change their situation.

X-men appeals to so many because of their powers, fantasies I am sure many have whether it is to fly or bend metal. Logan is faced with the task of saving the X-men’s future by diving into the past and discovering his mentor’s beginnings.

The mutants have this constant struggle of how to approach adversity. There is a whole layer added when Logan’s (Wolverine) mind goes back in time to change history. Honestly, I thought this was going to be cheesy and be overloaded with over the top action scenes. It is actually amazing the way the director, cast, and everyone balanced every element from mind-blowing action scenes to scenes wrought with emotion and pain. The X-men give this intense, powerful monologue that really tug on your heartstrings and cause you to be torn.

Everything, Everything: A Review

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My initial thoughts upon seeing this trailer was that this was going to be a really cheesy and pointless movie, and it was not.

Maddie, the title character lives in her home and never leaves due to a medical condition. The plot of this movie really rushes important plot points it could have expanded on for a much stronger movies. Instead it uses popular music and other summer tricks uses to convince teens to see movies. I’m not a teen, 28 in fact, but what I admire about this movie is how it captures young love. I thought the use of fantasy in the film was fantastic. I really appreciated that Maddie’s relationship with Olly, seemed close to what a real relationship would be like.

Overall, I did enjoy this movie but I don’t know if it was something to see in a theater or just rent at home once it comes out on DVD. Many parts of the plots were questionable and it seemed there were great leaps. But there were some simple, brilliant moments in this film that I really enjoyed.

Something that is not a fault of the film is all the hyper teenagers I was surrounded by during the movie. They were loud, obnoxious, distracted, vuglar, and I truly think I would have enjoyed the movie much more and been really able to escape if not for the people around me. I think this movie teaches about love, life, and forgiveness so if you want to see it in theater or maybe on DVD, I think the character is relateable. and the fantasy element of this movie, as well as the way the young couple communicates is really unique and something I haven’t seen before. I will say the couple seems really mature for 18 year olds.

Everything, Everything wasn’t everything I thought it would be. But I think it is worth checking out. I say, See it. Maybe on DVD is better.

Throwback Thursday: Nina’s dark dream world

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I cannot dance to save my life, but I love watching dance and have never seen Swan Lake. You have probably seen hundreds of films, plays, and musicals, but you haven’t experienced anything until you have witnessed Black Swan. Natalie Portman is gripping from start to end. The film is captivating and takes us into Nina’s (Portman’s) world of Dance which we are quick to enter and her mentally ill mind. Masterfully directed by Darren Aronofsky, many angles of this film are ones you consider once the movie is over. It is like a song in your mind and parts of it splash on to you like a hurricane. You cannot look away no matter how disturbing because you want to be side by side with every minute of action and at times you feel that energy. I watched the end in disbelief, knowing it was worth it and that “I felt it, it was perfect.” She wanted it so badly. To become the lead ballerina and the Choice is Swan Lake. We meet Beth, the older dancer who has a horrendous accident the night that Nina has an important dinner presenting her as swan queen to the public. Her teacher is a womanizer and his lexicon is suggestive but Nina wants the Swan Queen role. Enter Mila Kunias.  Lily who has emotions “she’s not faking it” says the teacher, Tom. They are told the story of the black Swan and Nina is chosen to the anger and jealous of other dancers. It is assumed that Nina is having liaisons with Tom. His nefarious behavior or kissing her and groping her is despicable, a man we love to hate.  She is this look of fear that never really goes away. She has no role model.

I was taken aback by her mother’s disturbing influence. Her mother has Nina under her watchful eye and it is alarming to see that while Nina is self- mutilating, her mother just is drugged out in the other room. The little music box plays and sends our protagonist into dreams with the dark, devilish prince that causes her to awake in fright. The male teacher in charge of the company suggests that Nina touch herself, but hurting herself is something Nina begins to fancy. The clothes are extravagant and the film has amazing graceful ballet. It explores a dark side. Nina is falling apart and I can’t help but want to put myself through the screen and hug her. It appears that it is too late for that as The White Swan Nina plays masterfully. It is the black Swan that troubles her and fogs her mind. There are many aspects of this film that you don’t know if they actually occurred or not. Her having sexual intercourse with Lily after lily puts a drug in her drink to let her “roll”. Also, when her mom takes the door knob away and tells Nina she called and said Nina wasn’t well, Nina gets out of the apartment or rather storms out. It is opening night. Here she has a scene with Lily that I will never forget.

Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would cross the line for reaching it? This dream she has had for so long is her moment! No one can swoop up and steal her precious time that she slaved away practicing and bleeding in the name of ballet. Perhaps Lily, the new girl, embodies the qualities of the black swan. This film teaches and shows us the dark element of dance. I would never want to dance or have dreams like Nina.  It takes you far past the edge into this world of obsession and madness that Nina cannot turn away from. What I love about this film is that there isn’t time and money and talk about the weather as things that bother you or make you stop and question things. It’s organic in the way it chooses to alarm and electrify your very being. Amid her woes you see that see loves dancing and it is everything to her. This lavish, decadent life she receives a glimpse of but on the downward spiral I want to scream but know it is too late. It’s over before you can help or see anyone who can. Truly it sways and rocks you into a troubled slumber of your own. Not for the weak of heart, I recommend Black Swan to anyone who has ever had a challenge in their life and given up or grown obsessed with that very challenge.