Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

Alex and the List is about a man in love with a woman ready to ask her to marry him, then she presents him with a list of "improvements" he must make for them to be the perfect couple who will last an eternity.  The staging was really, really bad. The actors all seemed too old to be playing their characters. Lots of talk about being immature, or not having to work, living at home, or not having to be responsible until they are forty. They all looked like they were about 39 years old!  The performances were substandard, the plot was pretentious, but I do like the premise that all women have these lists but few ever speak them aloud. I think this is true, although a mistake. Only young, silly girls think they can change a man. (Been there, tried that.) If you don't like him the way he is, he's not the one. *

Alive and Kicking is about the resurgence of swing dancing: the Lindy Hop and all the dances that were developed off it. It shows the various conventions and competitions, focusing on specific dancers or dance couples. Lots of history and historical film footage. Many of these dancers from history are in their 80s and 90s and still dancing. It also stresses community and connection, happiness, and camaraderie and that just made me depressed. Totally off limits for someone who is chemically sensitive, but fun movie. ***

American History X is about neo-Nazis and all the hate that comes with that. Derek (Edward Norton) goes to prison for killing two black men who were jacking his car leaving his little brother who idolized him to follow in his footsteps. In prison he realizes all that hate has done nothing to help his life. Excellent performances and story. ***

The Bridge This was the first German anti-war movie produced after World War II. It's about a village of boys near the end of the war. The Germans were running out of soldiers and started recruiting kids. They join up, idealistic, ready to defend the fatherland and bring honor to themselves. With only one day of training, their officer decides to keep them away from the battle front as the Americans approach and assigns them to guard their own village's bridge until daybreak when the American troops are expected and the Germans plan to blow the bridge. Their commanding officer is killed by the village police and the boys are left on their own not understanding they aren't supposed to really be guarding the bridge. The American tank show and the boys stand their ground. Great black and white film. War sucks. ***

Finding Your Feet is a British movie about a woman (Imelda Staunton) who's been living in the lap of luxury with a philandering husband who leaves her for his mistress. She moves in with her older free-spirited sister who she fell out of touch many years ago and learns how to live again. It was cute. ***

Flower was a complex, brilliant, disturbing, delightful movie about a fast-talking, smart-ass, seventeen year old girl, Erika (Zoey Deutch), who with her two friends, blackmail child molesters for money after entrapping them into accepting blow jobs.  Her mother's new boyfriend's son is just out of rehab and moves in with them. He is anxiety-prone, overweight, and not anything like she expected. He's very disturbed and after running into the teacher who molested him who was released from custody due to lack of evidence, he attempts to hang himself in their garage. Erika finds out this is guy is the "hot old guy" she has been oogling at the bowling alley. She devises an elaborate scheme to entrap him and make him pay for what he did to her new step-brother. Did he really do it or did her new, disturbed step-brother lie? Zoey Deutch is an incredibly actress. All outstanding performances. It gets very entangled and frightening when things go very wrong, but ends rather well. Excellent, intriguing movie. ****

The Hero was about an aging, unemployed cowboy-actor (Sam Elliott) known for his one good movie The Hero forty years prior. He's long-time divorced, estranged from his adult daughter, smokes too much, drinks too much and does way too many drugs. He is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and questions what achievement really is when he is offered a lifetime achievement award from a Western historical preservation guild. This was very much like the Burt Reynolds movie I saw a few months ago with the same theme, except it was more melancholy regarding age especially when he hooks up with a young, vibrant woman (Laura Prepon). The Reynolds movie also had a young woman in it, but their relationship was paternal not sexual in any way. The romance tended to put a glaring spotlight on his age especially since he keeps questioning her intentions. The Reynolds movie had more of an uplifting message about life appreciation. The Sam Elliott character was far more pathetic in his self-pity, but the plot was a little more entertaining. Prepon tends to play the same person in every role: always dyed black hair with teeny tiny drawn eyebrows, usually leather attired, often drugs, same personality. Same everything. I've never seen her do anything different and that suggests she's not acting, just being herself. That gets boring. ***

In Darkness is the Holocaust survivor story of a group of Jews in Lvov, Poland, who lived in the sewers for 14 months after the Jewish ghetto was annihilated until the end of the war. Leopold Socha, the local sewer maintenance worker and inspector, helped keep them safe and fed. Can you imagine? It amazes me they survived under those conditions, but they didn't have much of a choice. I actually read this story many years ago in a Holocaust encyclopedia. I wasn't sure if it was the same or based on the same story, but two details were seared into my brain: 1) the woman who had to smother her baby to keep it from crying so they wouldn't be discovered, and 2) when the war was over and Socha brought the Jews up to street level he proudly exclaimed repeatedly, "These are my Jews! I saved them!" It must have been hard work and his joy was overwhelming even in print. Great story, excellent performances, very violent and graphic, but it's the Holocaust and I appreciate the director didn't clean it up or romanticize it. Lots of rats. I can only imagine the smell of shit and dead bodies. I wonder how they didn't all die from disease. ****

Kings This was about the Rodney King trial and riots in Los Angeles in 1991-1992. It focuses on a husband-less woman (Halle Berry) with a whole lot of children including foster kids. She seemed to be out of control in every scene or not present leaving the children alone with older siblings who are not always competent in their care or even present themselves constantly moving in and out of the house. They are always hungry and with no food in the house, one of the older kids teaches the younger ones how to shoplift. They head to the local supermarket for some shoplifting fun and a meal of Cheetos and junk food.  (Note: this was really unrealistic as she would never be allowed to have this ratio of foster kids and with constant inspections, the neglect wouldn't go unnoticed. I think....) When the violence starts to escalate, the characters become perpetually confused and hysterical. Halle's character runs down the street and with no thought to leaving her very young kids at home. She starts screaming at and attacking police officers. Then as an afterthought she becomes a blubbering idiot wondering why they are arresting her. This leaves the seven year old in charge of two two year olds! Her kids all go running out into the streets in different directions regardless of the explosions and sounds of gunfire. Are they just stupid? The oldest kid in a hysterical fit of rage purposely stabs his friend/foster brother with a shard of window glass and then seems to come to his senses and wigs out that the kid is dying. Well, duh! Was he just not thinking? So they jump in an abandoned car, stealing it, and race around the neighborhood hysterically crying not sure where they are going with the idea they might save the kid's life by driving in circles. The whole movie was weird like that with people acting as brain dead as possible and the actors overacting to absurdity. Daniel Craig played Halle's drunk and volatile neighbor. Normally I like him, but his character was pretty ignorant as well. What adult in their right mind would harbor three young kids in his apartment without telling the parent? At one point Halle falls asleep and fantasizes about him. There was even some humor inappropriately and haphazardly interjected into some scenes that almost made it feel like a parody. Totally inappropriate for the subject matter. Is police brutality, injustice and violence funny? Maybe the writing was just bad?? Are these characters supposed to be stupid? And then it dawns on me...Is this the white man's view of the Rodney King situation? Are all African Americans perceived as stupid with too many unsupervised, out of control children? Do all black women desperately long for a white man? Are they all hysterical and unable to think in times of stress? And is all this violence their fault because they are so stupid to run out and challenge police officers? Hmmm... I wonder about the title, too. Kings. Hmmmmm.... So unable to stop thinking about how offensive and insulting this movie is, I got online and tried to find more information. Sure enough the director who is also the writer is a French white woman. Rotten Tomatoes, Rolling Stone and Roger Ebert each gave this film ONE star with comments such as "emotionally constipated" and "a really bad sitcom." So my final question: Why are Berry and Craig in such a movie? They are big box office draws. Did they not see these underlying messages?  This movie was a racist commentary on African Americans. Oddly enough, it was very thought-provoking and watchable, just appalling. *

Love, Simon is a coming-of-age, coming-out film about Simon who has a great life, great friends, great family and one big secret he desperately tries to keep for fear disclosure will change everything. Then someone at school  confesses anonymously in a chat or group and Simon and this mystery man begin emailing. Simon tries to guess who it is as the movie progresses. His emails are discovered by an asshole who blackmails him into helping him get a girl with the threat he'll tell everyone. It's a sweet movie, well-written with excellent performances and great humor while addressing nearly everything about being in the closet and coming out: the stereotypical behaviors of people, the worries and stresses, the realities, the "rules". Love the drama teacher. LOL. He has a great bedroom with really cool blackboard/slate walls surrounding his bed, but all I could think of is how he has to breathe in and sleep on chalk dust. Eeeeww.  *****

Nostalgia is about the material objects people leave behind after they die and the personal meaning and value that is attached to them. It follows several interconnecting stories of people's lives and their memories of loved ones. It was a little slow, but interesting in how it asks questions, for instance, if your house was burning down, what would you save, what is irreplaceable.  I've often thought about if I had only moments to get out of my house what would I grab. One of the stories involved a young woman who dies and because her computer and phone were destroyed, she left so little behind. Interesting thought. ***

Outside In is about a man who gets out of prison after twenty years for murder he didn't commit but took the blame. His ex-high school teacher (Eddie Falco) work for two years to get him released, talking to him several times a week. He's in love with her. She's married. Adjusting to life on the outside is difficult and he misses the connection they once had. ***

Patti Cakes This movie was a total surprise. I couldn't read the back of the DVD without my glasses, but I could make out "an inspirational underdog story" so I thought, OK. The front cover was questionable featuring an overweight blonde girl looking a little too much like Melissa McCarthy and an Indian man looking like ghetto gangsters. I was afraid it was stupid humor. I asked the librarian to read the back for me and she wasn't impressed. She read like this, "...Jersey NO!...strip-mall NO!...rapper NO!" I got it anyway, not always trusting the intuition of my librarians. Pleasantly surprised. It's about a 23 year old bartender living with her alcoholic, slutty mother and her dying grandmother. With posters of her favorite rapper covering her bedroom walls and many notebooks filled with rap lyrics, she fantasizes about being a famous rapper garnering acceptance from those who doubt her and money to pay for her grandmother's medical expenses. Playing in a man's world is difficult. Having a mother who once nearly got a recording contract when she was young and constantly beats your self-esteem down makes it nearly impossible. Most of the boys from her neighborhood still call her their junior high nickname for her "Dumbo" and resent her presence on street corners challenging their rapping skills.  Her best friend is a Indian pharmacy worker and she meets an African American guitar player at a open mic with metal rings in his mouth who calls himself the anti-Christ but goes by the name of Basterd. He lives on the edge of the cemetery in a shack filled with all kinds of recording equipment.  Together they become the rap group PBNJ and set to record a demo. Amidst the constant, debilitating rejection and negativity, she fights to escape the Jersey suburbs. Great story. Outstanding performances. ****

Permanent is about a very strange family in the 1980s. Their junior high daughter decides she wants hair like Farrah Fawcett and talks her mother (Patricia Arquette) into a perm. Her mother takes her to a beauty school where they overperm her head and she ends up with wild kinky curls. The previews looked like it might be cute and clever, instead it was stupid and irritating. *

Please Stand By is about a young woman (Dakota Fanning) living in a group home who wants desperately to live with her sister but she had a difficult time functioning, gets confused often, noises bother her and she throws violent temper tantrums. She's a Star Trek fan and enters a script writing contest in order to win money that she feels would enable her to live with her sister without costing her money. When she has missed the mailing deadline, she heads to Los Angeles on a bus negotiating the road blocks and hurdles along the way. Toni Colette is her therapist. **

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is about the creator of the comic Wonder Woman which is based on William Marston's psychological theories of dominance, influence, submission and compliance enacted through the polyamorous relationship between him, his wife and their student assistant. It was fascinating seeing how Wonder Woman and all her sexual domination over men came to be. Great performances. Loved the 1920s - 1940s wardrobe. ***

Roman J. Israel, Esq. is about a lawyer (Denzel Washington) who has been the hidden backbone of a two-partner law firm. His partner has a heart attack and his estate along with the firm is left to the niece to close using her uncle's former law student (Colin Farrell). She makes it clear Roman is unsuited to continue the work.  I think he is either autistic or has Asberger's Syndrome. He is unkept, dresses in old suits, listens to 1970s music and constantly relives his 1970's activist days sporting an Afro hairstyle. He tends to blurt out just what he's thinking and doesn't seem to comprehend the body language of others. Although he has a photographic memory and astute knowledge of the law, his interpersonal relationship style makes him a shitty lawyer which is why he was relegated to the backroom for the past 26 years. It was a sad, depressing movie. Washington was brilliant although truthfully it was a little unsettling seeing him 50 lbs. heavier, looking like a homeless guy stuck in the 1970s, and acting like he was cognitively impaired. I was never sure if Colin Farrell was a good guy or an extremely sleazy guy. Excellent soundtrack. ***

Same Kind of Different Than Me is about rich people volunteering at a homeless shelter. It was a little mushy. Lots of A-list actors, but the dialogue was a little staged. *

Submission is about a college literature professor (Stanley Tucci) who wrote one good novel and now has a serious case of writer's block due to his mundane, lifeless existence. One of his students is writing her own novel and asks him to read it. It's an X-rated narrative about a high school girl who has an affair with her science teacher. The young woman acts insecure, but clingy, needing his advice and approval constantly, hanging outside his office waiting for him, calling him at home. Are men really that stupid not to see the manipulation, how she setting him up to use and blackmail him? It's so pathetic to see how weak and stupid he is not to see what she's doing and she gives all women a bad name. Is it any wonder women who report bad behaving men are rarely taken seriously? **

Thank You For Your Service is about veterans who come back from the war with PTSD, get absolutely no help from veteran's services, and have to negotiate life while contemplating suicide all the time. It was very sad and frustrating. Great story, excellent performances with Miles Teller as the main character. ****

We Are X Oh, good god where have I been? It amazes me how much I don't know about the rest of the world. This is a documentary film on the androgynous-looking elaborately-costumed with a foot tall spiked pink hair, Japanese heavy metal band X Japan who has been around since 1977!!!???  They are internationally well-known...although clearly not that well-known in my part of the world! Yoshiki, is an incredibly high-energy, head-banging drummer, with huge celebrity, super-hero-type following in Japan. He is a classically trained pianist, writes all the group's songs, plays a number of instruments and is the designated band leader. He has made everything happen. The film addresses his background and family including his father's traumatic suicide when he was ten years old. Most his songs have to do with that pain which is why they resonate with so many. Outstanding vocals from the lead singer who at one point was brainwashed by a cult who talked him into quitting and causing the band to break up. Shortly after the breakup, their guitarist committed suicide although I don't think it was suicide agreeing with other people in the film based on the information they gave. Another guitarist, former band member, also committed suicide after he was arrested. It was an incredibly compelling history and now forty years later, they are still performing to huge international audiences with a devoted following. What shocks me is how young Yoshiki looks! Skinny rockstar, no wrinkles, long hair...He's 52 years old now and doesn't look a day older than 25!. How does that happen? I'm jealous. The film included a lot of footage on the steroid shots he takes because of the pain in his wrists, elbows, and shoulders from overuse (drumming and piano playing) and he wears a neck brace due to neck injuries from head banging action, but it all somehow adds to his rock-star mystique. The fact he looks immortal helps. They wear face masks too, but I don't know if it's because of air pollution, a fashion statement, or vocal protection. It wasn't addressed. I know this is really popular in Japan, and with MCS I was curious. Great movie. I love it when fans cry when they meet him. LOL. *****

The Wedding Plan is an Israeli movie about a Jewish woman who has been looking for a husband for twelve years. She's about to get married and as they are sitting with the wedding planner's sampling dishes for the wedding, she asks him why he has become distant, they argue, then he finally confesses he doesn't love her. She gets back on the wagon and through a matchmaker starts looking for another suitable candidate, but she's so depressed and exhausted by the frustration and disappointment she turns them all off with her negativity. In the meantime she has booked the wedding hall and plans to get married in 22 days trusting God will find her the perfect man in time. At one point she goes to visit some rabbi's tomb and cries about how unworthy she is. A man on the other side of the gender partition starts asking her if she's alright and if she needs anything, what her name is. Again as with all men she shuns him and tells him to go away. He meets her outside...GORGEOUS, CHARMING, totally mesmerized by her and the chemistry between them in undeniable. Come to find out he's a rock star. Really! But she starts spouting off her crazy-ass wedding plan and tells him clearly their relationship would be unrealistic because she's looking for the real thing with a religious spouse and kids and homemaker responsibilities. Good god, I wanted to slap her! She continues being negative and depressed, turning off and away suitable men. It was so fucking weird, but these orthodox religious beliefs are so weird they are often unbelievable. I can't imagine the stress of being an extremely orthodox Jewish woman who feels she must get married but is so picky it never happens. The wedding song lyrics are so bizarre! Weird ending. It says on the DVD cover it's a comedy, but I thought it was depressing as hell. **

Wilson starts off hilarious with LOL moments. It's about Wilson (Woody Harrelson) who is contemplating life and how when we are young we are full of possibility, but then the older we get the more we realize it's all bull shit. Wilson has realized his life has no meaning and with the advent of computer technology, we've lost all connection to other human beings. He goes through his day trying to make connections, sitting next to strangers in cafes, on buses, on trains, people who are staring at their phones or laptops or plugged into earphones. And he has absolutely no filter saying whatever he wants. After his father dies, he realizes he has no one. He decides to try dating (Margo Martindale...who I always love) and then reminisces about his drug-addicted ex-wife from long ago. He finds out she didn't have that abortion eighteen years ago and they have a daughter who the wife gave up for adoption. They find the daughter, stalk her, whisk her away for a weekend, until her adopted parents charge him with kidnapping. That's where the movie got a little bizarre, silly and convoluted. Prior to that it was asking some really great questions about life. ***

Wind River is about a young Native American woman who is found frozen in the snow far from civilization on the Wind River Reservation by a Fish and Wildlife Ranger who is a professional tracker. The FBI is called in and together they set about solving her rape and murder. It was excellent and addressed violence against Native American women that goes ignored. ****

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I am off dabbling again in a new art form. Lately art doesn't feel interesting. In fact most of the time it feels very frustrating, stressful, and judgmental as it demands perfection. Last summer I went on an artist tour and met a mosaic artist...

MOSAICS! For a long time I've had a book on how to do mosaics, but I didn't know how to get started. The investment in supplies is very expensive so I felt the need for a test run and to see if any of the materials are toxic. This mosaic artist offers lessons in her studio, but it's not a classroom, more like a free studio time so you get one-on-one instruction. She doesn't wear scented products because she's a bit sensitive and doesn't like them. However, others who are using her studio, for instance, those also getting private instruction and visitors from off the street who walk in to see her gallery are a constant risk. The first time I went in there was only myself, the mosaic artist, and one other non-stinker working on her first project. Very nice!

For my first project I selected a 5 x 7 frame which is the smallest and lowest cost at $25. I drew a simple design on the glass, and started breaking glass and gluing! It's like doing a puzzle of patterns only you get to make the pieces! Wait for it to dry, add the grout, then paint the frame (optional) and add a hanger.

The glues aren't too bad. The main glue is like Elmer's, but the E6000 for heavy pieces or additions is really toxic, but optional if one doesn't use added or heavy pieces. The grout doesn't bother me. I painted the frame so that's a toxicity issue, but it is a small part of the project and optional, although I like painted frames. The glass and beads are totally non-toxic, although I did stab myself one day with a chard of glass.

My design is a sunflower with purple background and green tendrils. Above it is hanging in the window so it's a bit hard to see, but it's all about the light. I love the light play with these mosaics.

Here it is in indoor light on a surface:

I made it for my bathroom which is purple and yellow. That was my first mistake. I didn't realize the textured glass in that bathroom is tinted blue so the sunflower looks green when hanging in the bathroom. And then there are all the other design problems....ugh! That's OK. It was a learning experience.

So I've been collecting frames (free from yard sales, etc.), collecting colored glassware for breaking, and I dug my old window frames out of the spider-invested dark corners of the garage for some larger ideas when I get some more practice behind me. I'm psyched! It's going to be a huge investment in glass supplies and tools. I'm not sure where to do this. The garage is too cold in the winter and there is no way I'm going to have broken glass all over my house. Still planning. It might end up to be only summer entertainment.

I'm happy to be happy with art again!

So joyful!!!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Essential Poisons

I found this outstanding article from The Wild Wood Apothecary blog called "Why I'm Essential Oil Free" . You can read it HERE. I especially love the information on the essential oils that are hormone disruptors. Chemicals are hormone disruptors in general, but as someone with Hashimoto's and MCS who is unable to regulate my hormones with drugs, protecting my thyroid and hormone balance is always a priority.

Another interesting point she makes is, "The scent alone is strong enough to kill your gut flora." Wow. That I didn't know!

Some essential oils put one at risk for breast cancer and she also addresses the known fact they poison pets.

She quotes, Susun S. Weed who says essential oils are the "white sugar of herbalism."

Outstanding article!!

I am so happy people are finally realizing essential oils are not God's gift to humans, but poisons plain and simple. Even if these volatile concoctions don't bother you and you choose to poison yourself, keep in mind there are people sharing your air space who not only react badly to essential oils, but don't want to be poisoned! Please be considerate!

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Apple Thieves

Every night between eight and nine the raccoon family shows up. At least one climbs the tree and the others hang about on the ground waiting for apples to fall. Tonight there were at least four in the tree and three on the ground. And they kept growling at each other. Greedy...

With my cheap camera it's impossible to get a good photo. This was the only one that wasn't pitch black with a few little yellow spots. You can see the raccoon up in the tree about the middle and another over to the right side of the tree. There were two more in the tree to the left but I can't pick them out now. The visible one on the ground to the right of the trunk with reflective devil eyes looking straight at me. I think she was the momma. She was BIG!

I love raccoons!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

September Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

And Then I Go was about a boy who is bullied, beaten, alienated and harassed constantly. School is intolerable. He suffers from anxiety, insomnia, nightmares and cries a lot. The adults in his life are so incredibly INCOMPETENT at connecting with him and his parents pathetically ineffective. His equally-misfit best friend decides they need to use his father's guns and get revenge, and they begin planning to shoot up the school. Excellent movie, but disturbing. ****

Bitter Harvest is about the Holodomor, the systematic genocide by starvation of the Urkraine people by Stalin in 1930s. Around 5 - 10 million people died. I'm embarrassed to say I've never even heard of this.  Great movie, a little melodramatic, but still good. ***

Conviction Outstanding title! Boy, I love a good title especially one that has something to do with the storyline! It's about a man (Sam Rockwell) who is wrongly convicted of murder. His sister (Hilary Swank) spends years getting into college, then law school all to prove his innocence. Excellent story about sibling love and devotion and CONVICTION. ****

A Dangerous Method is about the early years of psychoanology, Carl Jung, his relationship with a patient, and his relationship with Sigmund Freud. Keira Knightley is one kick-ass crazy person! Her performance is exceptional. I hardly recognized her. ***

Difret is based on a true story about a fourteen-year old Ethiopian girl who is abducted by a group of men, beaten, and raped...because that is how the men in this culture get a wife. These backward societies never cease to amaze me. She escapes, they corner her, and she shoots her abductor/future husband. Tribal tradition demands she dies, but a lawyer represents her and sets precedent for marriage laws that make abduction illegal. Good story. Sad. ****

Gerontophilia is about Lake, an eighteen?-year old kid who has a fetish for elderly people. He gets a job in a care center where they treat the patients like crap and he falls in love with one of the men.  He spends his time drinking and playing strip poker with him and then the medical staff drugs his friend into a catatonic state. He kidnaps him and they drive across country so his elderly lover can see the ocean one last time. It was very weird and initially uncomfortable as Lake is a "gerontophile". Is he taking advantage of them? It sure seems like it. After a while it felt more like a gift: this older man's last fling with a gorgeous young thing. Still it was weird and a little slow. I thought it was a docu-comedy on aging the way it was advertised so I was a little disappointed. **

The Good Son is about a boy (Elijah Wood) who's mother just died. While his father needs to be away on business, he is sent to live with his uncle, aunt, cousin and the ever psychotic Macaulay Culkin who does terrible things. Everyone think Elijah is having a difficult time dealing with the loss so they think he's lying when he tries to tell them about the crazy kid. It was a little slow, with incredibly (horrible) melodramatic music. Culkin is great at delivering his lines, but often misses the emotion in them. With more emotion his insanity would have been more believable, but he was just a little kid so he gets props for his age. Beautiful scenery. ***

The Keeping Hours OH. MY. GOD. This was so heart-wrenching. It's about a couple who have the sweetest five-year old boy. They get married, then as they leave for their honeymoon are in a car wreck and the little boy dies. Due to grief and stress, couple gets divorced. Years later renters who have been renting their house exit abruptly and trash the place leaving broken windows and general chaos. The man goes back to clean up...his son's ghost is in the house and asks where his mommy is. She's remarried and has a new family. The man gets her and they moved back into the house to be with their son, rekindling their relationship.  The former tenants had contacted a medium for advice and she shows up at the door. She tells him to find out from the boy why he's back, what unfinished business he has and how they can send him on his way although clearly they really don't want to send him anywhere! It was an outstanding ghost story about grief. No stupid special effects or scenes of horror. Adorable kid. If they would have given him devil eyes or if he would have levitated, I would have turned it off in disgust, but none of that nonsense. Great ending, but a real tear jerker. I have no clue what the title means. ****

A Life Lived was about the life of a dollar bill and how it changes hands and weaves itself through the lives of people, most of them connected in some way. Really, really bad performances. The homeless guy had a beard that was clearly fake. But interesting idea. **

Love of My Life is about an architect (Anna Chancellor) who has been diagnosed with brain cancer. She is scheduled for surgery in five days and may or may not come through it. She doesn't want anyone to know, but since it's a comedy her family find out and one of her daughters tells her ex-husband who shows up and claims she is the love of his life and it's now time to get back together and live the life they should have. Her current husband says she's the love of his life, her other daughter has meet a man and claims he is the love of her life, and the first daughter says she needs to meet the love of her life before her mother dies to make her happy. It was about the quality of life and assessing what kind of life you leave behind when you die. It was cute. I like Anna Chancellor. She's in a lot of good British comedies usually playing supporting roles and here she is the main character. ***

Marjorie Prime is a futuristic story about an older woman who has dementia and she has an AI companion who is the spitting image of her deceased husband at a youthful forty years old (Jon Hamm). He is fed her memories by not only her, but her daughter (Geena Davis) and son-in-law (Tim Robbins). The more he knows the more real he becomes and able to act human, however, they select the memories they want him to have and everyone skirts around the suicide of the woman's teenage son many years before. Then she dies and her daughter has an AI that looks like her mother and she also avoids the topic of the suicide. Then the daughter dies and her husband has an AI created for his wife and again, avoids the topic of the brother's suicide but come to find out his wife committed suicide. The end was interesting with all three AIs in the same room and everyone dead and they carry on as if they are a family with memories. The family secret themes were interesting. It was a little slow at times and Geena Davis kept slurring her words but I don't know if that was just the way she talks or if she was struggling with false teeth. It was a bit distracting.  Aging is a bitch. I get that. **

Missionary is about a Mormon missionary who befriends a woman and her son. The woman has an affair with him (which seemed really wrong, by the way), and he starts believing they are his celestial family appointed by God. Separated from her husband, they decide to get back together again and the Mormon becomes absolutely psycho in the worst way possible. I loved it he quoted Bible verses to justify his bad behavior. LOL. And it definitely had a moral lesson. Great story. It was quite scary. I'll never see Mormon missionaries in quite the same way again! ****

Miss Stevens is about a high school English teacher who volunteers to take three students to a drama competition. One of the kids who has some kind of "behavior disorder" and is or should be on medication. He has a bit of a crush on her. She has her own problems dealing with the recent death of her mother and sleeping with a married man at the competition. She's sad, the kid's sad and they are drawn to each other, but she tries to keep a professional distance from him. There is a certain sexual tension between them but it wasn't enough to make it interesting or uncomfortable. I kept getting up and doing things without putting the DVD on pause so you know that's not a good sign, but I never turned it off. The kid was mesmerizing, but the movie didn't seem to have a point and the teacher was kind of irritating. **

Never Let Me Go is a creepy sci-fi futuristic movie about genetically-engineered clones who are created so they can be organ donors when they grow up. The story begins at the English boarding school where the cloned children are being taught and trained to live on the outside world. Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Kathy (Carrie Mulligan) are in love, although only ten-twelve years old so they hardly understand it.  Ruth (Keira Knightley) is Kathy's best friend. Jealous of her friend's impending relationship steals him away depriving her of true love. As they age out they are moved to a communal center where they wait until they are old enough to become donors. At that time they start donating their organs one at a time until they reach "completion" which is just a nice way of saying DIE from physical trauma. Some donors "complete" after the first transplant, others keep on donating up to four. Most die at number three. There are rumors if there are donors who are in love and can prove it, they can get a four year deferment to postpone the inevitable. Weird, weird movie. A little slow, very disturbing, but the performances were good. Stupid, stupid title. The title should have been Completion, nice double-entendre word that says it all. And so obvious a title. (This is the title of the novel the movie is based as well.) ***

127 Hours is about a solo hiker, climber, mountain biker, outdoorsman who heads out for a bike ride/hike/climb in the wilderness of Utah, falls down a crack in a mountain, a boulder falls on his arm pinning him miles away from civilization. He didn't tell anyone where he was going and has little food or water left. It was really outstanding and James Franco was superb. ****

The Party This was hilarious. It's a dinner party just starting in honor of the promotion of the hostess (Kristen Scott Thomas) as Minister of Health, the guests are arriving (Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer,  Timothy Spall,  Cillian Murphy, and Cherry Jones) each adding more drama to the mix. Her husband (Bruno Ganz) is sitting in the living room acting very strange and she keeps getting calls from her lover. Then one by one the guests have announcements and everything goes to hell. It was fun, the performances were outstanding, and I loved the ending. It must have been a play. ****

Take Shelter is about a man who starts having horrible nightmares about storms and people attacking him. Then during the day he keeps hallucinating thunder. He feels compelled to build an underground tornado shelter in anticipation of this deadly storm premonition. Everyone thinks he's crazy and he's definitely acting crazy. He loses his job and starts seeing a counselor at the recommendation of his doctor. His mother was commit to an insane asylum when she was in her thirties so he thinks maybe it's starting for him, but he's still compelled to build. I just couldn't wait to get to the end to find out if it's a premonition or if he's just crazy. ***

Tully is about a woman (Charlize Theron) who is nine months pregnant and about to have her third child. One of her children has undiagnosed special needs. She's exhausted and then pops out the third one and is triple exhausted. She is gifted a night nanny, a young freespirited woman who works graveyard so she can get some sleep. I wasn't sure where this was going and although I figured it would resonate with women with a lot of kids, it seemed pretty mundane to me. By the end of the movie I saw the point, however, I think the point was wasted and should have been slightly more apparent earlier in the plot. I'm still a little confused by some of the scenes. **

Unstoppable is an impending-disaster movie about a run-away train starring Denzel Washington and Chris Pine as a train engineer and conductor who after nearly getting in a head-on collision with the monster train, put their engine in reverse in an attempt connect to it and stop it before it takes out Stanton, Pennsylvania. Absolutely riveting and never a dull moment. The train kept growling, like in the movie Titanic when the ship kept growling as it was sinking. That was fun. Loved the opening credits how they did them with the trains. Washington has some great comedic lines and Chris Pine is gorgeous. Outstanding performances by all. I was up standing, jumping around with my hands over my mouth it was so intense. Loved it. ****

A Very Sordid Wedding This movie has the weirdest cast of crazies I've ever seen! And I'm saying that with a southern (Texan) accent. It was a HUGE cast. It's main theme was about gay rights and southern culture. It had some funny lines, but the DVD was damaged so it kept skipping and stalling. Finally I turned it off, but it didn't stop me from speaking and thinking with a Texan accent right up until bedtime! *

A Wrinkle in Time was absolutely horrid. Most of the performances were embarrassingly bad, the story nonsensical, the costumes and make-up  were like very cheap Walmart Halloween crap, and the special effects were pathetic. Obviously Disney put no money into production and a lot in promoting it hoping the big names would bring in the big bucks. Throughout the whole movie I kept asking myself (usually out loud) what the heck was that, where did that come from, or what was the point in that scene? Very disappointing especially considering all the hype. *

Friday, September 28, 2018

Garden Harvest

Regretfully, I don't have much to show.

Here are my squash:

I grew them in big pots this year and sorry to say, as usual even when in the ground, they are still puny. Actually I think they are a little bigger than when I have grown them directly in the ground, but not by much.

Not even sure if it's big enough to eat.

Carrots are OK:

The biggest pot has the biggest carrots.

As much as I like growing food, it never seems to be worth all the expense and work.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Pack Ratting Addiction

Last weekend I encountered some awesome garage sales. What was really outstanding is they were smelly laundry detergent on fabrics, no air fresheners...scent free. The first one was the estate sale of a collector and dabbler in creative pursuits. She had a whole box of paper making supplies. I was tempted.

She also had a whole collection of handmade books that were gorgeous, but I couldn't justify the purchase since I had no idea what I'd do with them. Every room was filled with wicker and although I'm not fond of wicker or baskets, she had a great set of furniture I would have loved. I resisted.

And a whole garage of crafts project supplies of every kind, but no painting or art supplies. I passed on a lot of great items and kind of regret it now, but I tried to be practical...I bought:

three colorful beach towels 

two full bottles of ammonia 

a bottle of vinegar 

a half bottle of Elmer's glue 

two tiny picture frames

a container of organic slug bait 

a hose sprayer 

a small cooler 

All very practical items, well, except the beach towels. For someone who hardly goes to the beach, I sure like joyfully colored beach towels!

Then I got impractical and bought a bracelet, but failed to check to see if it worked.

It doesn't clasp. It's broken. So either I'll fix it or the beads can be reused for something. Still a good buy. It was only a $1.

The second estate sale had a ratty old sign so I hesitated then figured I had nothing to lose (but money). These people said they just wanted everything gone so nothing was priced over a dollar:

a beautiful white bedspread (.50 cents!) This will go with the beautiful white blanket I bought at the last sale! The woman said she had just washed it. I panicked, but there was no smell! Hooray!

a gorgeous cotton terry bathrobe My bathrobe is so old it is unimaginable it's still usable, but it's lightweight flannel, has dangerously long sleeves that can catch fire on burners and a long length for tripping. I've wanted something much warmer for a long time. This one is heavy-weight terry cloth with pockets, shorter sleeves and slightly shorter in length. Really good quality and it makes me want to snuggle. Love it! (.25 cents!)

three sets of flannel sheets, light blue, green, and red (.75 cents each)

two rugs (.50 cents each)

painters overalls !!!!!! (.25 cents)

You can't imagine how long I've been looking for some painter's overalls for painting, construction or gardening. The ones I find are for large men which would not be comfortable to wear since they are so big and heavy they would impede movement like my coveralls do.These were for the woman who owned them and they fit me perfectly!

two blue-glass pie dishes (.50 cents) I can use the glass for the mosaic class I hope to take soon. The bracelet was photographed on top of a pie dish.

a picture frame (.10 cents)

a hose attachment (.25 cents)

two lawn chairs (.50 cents each) The lawn chairs were in the back of the garage, covered in dust and dirt, but in very good working order. I got them home, scrubbed them down and they are beautiful. I've always wanted a recliner lawn chair for vitamin D therapy.

and a box of socks (1.00). There were about 15 pairs of white cotton socks in the box. I'm not one for buying used socks but I checked them and they seemed very clean. I figured for a dollar I could bleach them and use them for rags. (I sterilize everything once it's home.)  I got them home, inspected them, and found they are practically new! I'm set for life for socks!

I love the towels match the lawn chair in brightness and cheerfulness!

And I love the garden implements even match the lawn chair! LOL!

Both houses were amazingly fragrance-free.

If that wasn't enough the local junk store that is going out of business put out on the sidewalk for free three school cafeteria-style tables!! Whoa!! Art tables!

What an outstanding day!!! Nothing I love more than buying used junk at awesome prices and practical FREEBIES!

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Wildlife Friends

I love wildlife. Well, as long as they aren't living in or under my house. Or using my garage roof as a toilet. I enjoy watching them wander through my gardens because I know they appreciate all the work I've done to make it welcoming and beautiful. Actually, I'm sure they don't care if it's beautiful just edible.

I am reading a book on how to make your property wildlife friendly. Most of it has to do with habitat conservation of acreage, but there is a little section on residential backyards. For the most part, this has been my goal all along. I've grown hummingbird and bee-attracting plants, fruit trees and berries, birdhouses, and a little ground-level bird bath. What I didn't realize is more varieties of birds will use a ground-level bird bath than a pedestal-style bird bath. I had a pedestal bath once and the animals would climb on it, knock it over, and break it. I always thought ground-level baths would be more dangerous for them. Placing it near a bush or under the tree makes it safer. Mine is under the cherry tree.

My fruit trees are dripping with fruit. Literally. I've been selling bags of the Italian prunes to prune-tree-less customers, but once everyone had a bag I can't even give them away now. This week I plan to pick the whole tree and take it to the food bank. The apples are just now starting to ripen.

Every morning I go out and pick up at least twenty windfalls of apples and as many Italian prunes. By afternoon there is another load. It's a lot of work. If I don't do this and let them rot on the ground not only does the fruit mold and create fungus damaging the trees, but the rats come over for a snack. If they visit too often they start feeling at home. In years past I have thrown the apples over the fence so the deer can eat them, but if they don't eat them, it gets messy and attracts wasps not to mention rats. This year I've put the fruit in fruit baskets so it's contained but available for the deer or other animals.

By the end of the day the baskets are full and by morning half empty. Today while I was picking up apples and putting them in the basket my neighbor drove up along side and said,

"I don't know if it's your intention to have the deer eat out of the baskets?"

For a moment I felt defensive, ready for a fight, but I smiled and replied, "Yep, that's the plan."

He continued, "Well, last night there were three magnificent buck eating. It was quite the sight." He left before I had the opportunity to tell him if they eat their fill out of the basket, maybe they'll leave his garden alone!

Hooray!  I knew the deer were eating because they are messy eaters, leave large footprints plowing up the dirt, and crap all over. More importantly, I was glad the neighbor seemed happy about it. People in this neighborhood love to thoughtlessly own barking, biting obnoxious dogs, but they usually don't hesitate to kill a wild animal. Most of them hunt the deer. I really don't like most of my neighbors.

I tend to have incredibly sensitive hearing, bionic hearing, due to chemical sensitivity, and I sleep with the windows open. Most nights as I lay in bed and can hear animals lapping the water in the bird bath. I love getting out of bed and watching them. Usually raccoons. I think they are just noisier than other animals, but on occasion I spy a opossum. The raccoons are noisier, also, because they take a whole bath while drinking. Multitasking. I always know when a raccoon has visited - the bird bath is almost empty and what is left is mud.

Last night there was a fat raccoon who must have drank water for fifteen minutes. It's not a very big bird bath and I was compelled to run out there and re-fill it, but I know it would have frightened him away. He circled the tree then came back and drank some more. So I've added a raccoon pond! The only containers I have that would be suitable are two ten-gallon aquariums. I placed large bricks along side for sitting platforms.

Well, see if it works. I placed it in the backyard which is more private, but I won't be able to watch. I'll know if they use them - the water will be dirty.

I'm thinking maybe I should build another pond, but the last one was a hassle to maintain. Hmmm...

UPDATE: OH! This morning I awoke to some clatter. I thought maybe the deer were wrestling with the baskets of apples and prunes. I took my flashlight and shined it around and saw some dark lumps up in the prune tree. I ran downstairs and opened the front door. One mama raccoon with four fat babies all up in the prune tree trying to find something to eat. I think opening the door and shining a light on them made mama nervous. She started growling lowly at them and they all hustled down the tree and in single file gingerly exited toward the backyard. So cute. I don't think they are using the raccoon pond. It is looking a little dirty.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Essential Oil Toxicity

I approached one of the members of my art group. His essential oil stink polluted the outside air at least 10 feet in circumference. I quickly adjusted my position in the group, up wind and away. He's the one who professes because essential oils are "organic" they are healthy. He refuses to listen to anything I have to say and he's the quintessential mansplainer constantly taking the position that he knows more than me simply because of his gender. What an ignoramus!
Alison Johnson recently included an essential oil study results on her website:
Essential oils, widely used in society, emit numerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Some of these VOCs are considered potentially hazardous under federal regulations. However, essential oils are exempt from disclosure of their ingredients on their label. Thus, the public may lack information on emissions and potential hazards from essential oils. This study examined VOCs emitted from a range of commercial essential oils, including tea tree oils, lavender oils, eucalyptus oils, and other individual oils and mixtures of oils. Using headspace gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), the study analyzed 24 commercial essential oils, including 12 with claims of being "natural" or related terms, such as organic, 100% pure, or plant-based. Results identified 595 VOCs emitted from the 24 essential oils, representing 188 different VOCs. The most common VOCs emitted were alpha-pinene, limonene, acetone, linalool, alpha-phellandrene, betamyrcene, and camphene. Among the 589 VOCs identified, 124 VOCs, representing 33 different VOCs, are classified as potentially hazardous. All natural and regular essential oils emitted one or more potentially hazardous VOCs, such as acetaldhyde, acetone, and ethanol. Toluene was also found in 50% of essential oils. Moreover, for the prevalent VOCs classified as potentially hazardous, no significant difference was found between regular and natural essential oils. This study provides insights and information about emissions of commercial essential oils that can be useful for public awareness and risk reduction.
AH HA!!!! All those "ene" toxins are cancer-causing as well as just being poisonous. Didn't I ponder in another post I bet they add toulene to essential oils to maintain viscocity??? And there it is! Toulene is in every perfume and is a known cause of cancer!!! Sounds exactly like the perfume industry with their "trade secret" clause defying transparency. I'll make another prediction: I bet anything the essential oils industry is controlled by the perfume and chemical companies, much like some organic seed companies are owned by Monsanto. 
Vindicated once again.
To all you addicted naysayers out there, research is finally confirming the toxcity of essential oils. Take it seriously. Stop poisoning the rest of us and stop pushing your poisons on those who are not interested! Those of us who are "canaries" aren't crazy. We know when your stink is toxic!
If you want to read Alison Johnson's article click HERE

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Shade Garden

I'm loving my shade garden. It has all kinds of native plants: yew tree, maple tree, cherry tree, cyclamen, sword ferns, and lady ferns, with trillium tucked in the back. Every spring and fall when I'm cleaning the gardens, I take all these "weed" types that spring up all over [like weeds!] and put them here.

I love it when the cyclamen blooms appear with the first fall rain signifying summer is over. Well, it's a bit surprising because I always think, SUMMER IS OVER? ALREADY? But they are so pretty interspersed among the dark ferns.

What is special about this shade garden is it took me years to get it to look decent. I must have spent hundreds of dollars on seeds hoping to get shade plants to grow under these trees and nothing would. Finally I thought, Why fight it? Use the native plants! It's finally starting to look nice and filled.

The tiny round cyclamen leaves are just now starting to appear.

They are such pretty leaves. Once they are full grown they are a beautiful heart shape that is so lovely. This is a winter plant which I always find unusual since so much of the garden is dependent on spring-summer weather. The ferns will die back in the winter so my shade garden evolves with the seasons.

Hooray for native plants and not fighting nature!!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Italian Prunes

My Italian Prune tree is LOADED this year. Thousands of prunes. Last year I think it only produced a small bowl full. This year I've already given away five bags and have barely made a dent in the supply! Aren't prunes good for your colon? Added bonus!


Friday, August 31, 2018

August Movie Reviews

*****  Exceptional
****    Great
***      OK
**        So So
*          Blah

All Saints is a Christian-centered movie about a preacher to is assigned to a failing church in order to sell the land and close it down. With a congregation of twelve, it's not worth maintaining. He is faced with a group of refugee farmers from Myanmar who don't have money and are having a hard time feeding their kids. The church has no money, but a lot of acreage so they decide to put the land to work in hopes of saving the church. Really bad performances, incredibly bad dialogue, and lots of unrealistic hope that God is talking to them and will save them. In the end God doesn't talk to anyone and all their plans fail, but like a good religious movie, it doesn't matter. *

The Clapper is about a man who is a professional audience member for infomercials. Every now and then he's given a line to say, but for the most part they want him to be anonymous, just the average American consumer. He's called out for his disguises by a talk show host and becomes famous. Because he can no longer be anonymous, no one will hire him. I can't tell if the script was just lousy or the characters were purposely idiotic with low IQs. They don't comprehend what each other is saying nor are they able to articulate what they feel. If cognitively impaired on purpose, there was something discomforting about this talk show host using them as the butt of his jokes. Or was this for comedic effect? If so it was bad. There were moments that should have been funny but weren't, should have been sentimental, but weren't, and should have been clever, but weren't. It missed the mark at every opportunity. The weird or lack of character development left me confused. The photography was beautiful. Too bad. **

The Florida Project is about the life of Moonie, a precocious  six-year old potty-mouth whose incredibly low-life, immature mother is a scam artist by day and a hooker by night. They live in a purple-painted budget motel just off the highway called the Magic Castle managed by Bobbie (William Dafoe) and filled with other low income families. She runs wild and unsupervised with a gang of friends getting into all kinds of mischief. The story is delightfully filmed from the perspective of a child. The photography is exceptional. Love the way colors are used. Love the opening with Kool and the Gang's song "Celebrate."  Brilliant performances. So incredibly sad. ****

Good Hair Chris Rock narrates this documentary on black hair and what people do to get "good hair". It was fascinating. I had no idea black women can spend anywhere from $1,000 to $3,500 on a hair weave made from Indian hair. Or that people in India go through a religious ceremony and cut their hair off for God because hair is vanity. The temple then sells their hair to those who delouse, clean, condition, cut, and sew it to make hair weaves and one hair weave salesman can carry $15,000 worth of weaves in a suitcase and sell them all to salons in a matter of a few hours.  Or the black market where people actually steal the hair right off a sleeping Indian woman's head. Some of it was more than disturbing like the relaxer perms that people give their 2 year old daughters. The whole documentary was amazing and Chris Rock was hilarious. ****

The Greatest Showman is a musical (!) about P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and the beginnings of his circus in the 1800s with themes of honoring diversity and following dreams. It was fun. The music was good but nothing special and a little odd it was modern in a nineteenth-century setting. Performances were good. ***

Half Magic is an incredibly lame movie about three women who meet at a women's empowerment class and become instant best friends. Yeah, like that is realistic. They attempt to change all the horrible things in their lives by doing candle magic. The lead character's name is Honey. There is absolutely no substance to this film. The performances were really bad, the script really bad, and the plot really bad. *

Ingrid Goes West is about a psychotic woman who is obsessed with social media and becomes delusionally attached to women who have "perfect" lives, loving them as distant best friends and hating them in very scary ways when they don't reciprocate. It's frightening!  It also serves as a cautionary tale of how we shouldn't pretend we know the people we meet online. Oddly enough it was a comedy. Aubrey Plaza who stars as Ingrid is outstandingly insane. ***

In Harmony was a French movie about a horse-riding stuntman who is injured and in a wheelchair. The insurance company is trying to screw him over and his claims adjuster keeps trying to pressure him into signing their lousy deal. They end up falling in love, but she's married with kids. The horse was gorgeous. ***

I, Tonya is the story of Tonya Harding, notorious Olympic figure skater involved in the knee bashing of Nancy Kerrigan, her competitor. Such a sad low-class life surrounded by stupid people, filled with bad choices, and experiencing way too much domestic violence. The movie portrays her as almost innocent, or a victim of her situation. Too bad she wasn't able to crawl up out of the sewer overcome all the adversity with the talent she had.  ***

The Man Who Invented Christmas is about Charles Dickens's writing of A Christmas Carol. As he develops the characters they come to live and torment him with suggestions.  It was cute. Great performances. Christopher Plummer plays Scrooge and has outstanding lines and a smart ass mouth. It kind of reminded me of my favorite movie of all time the spectacular in every way Shakespeare in Love only not as clever or as well-written. Still it was good. Great sets, costumes, performances and enjoyable. It made me want to READ A Christmas Story. ****

November Criminals is about a high school student dealing with the grief from his mother's recent death. Then his friend is senselessly murdered.  Everyone keeps saying it's gang related only because the boy was African American. He wants answers, answers he never found in the death of his mother,  and goes search down dark alleys to find them. I really like Ansel Elgort --cute, pouty-lipped boy with great acting skills. Chloe Grace Moretz is his girlfriend. Lots of pouty lips in this movie. ****

Only the Brave is about the Granite Mountain Hot Shots, fire fighter team in Prescott, AZ. All-star cast with Josh Brolin, Miles Teller, Jeff Bridges, Jennifer Connelly, and others. Great story, excellent performances, very  sad. ****

The Queen of Versailles is a documentary film about the incredibly arrogant David and Jackie Siegel, American multi-millionaires, who live lavishly and are building the largest, most expensive house in the USA based on the design for the French castle at Versailles. Then the economy tanks in 2008 and they start losing everything. Well, "losing everything" is relative. I could live off a tiny fraction of what they lost and consider myself wealthy. Does that stop Jackie from spending frivolously? Hell no. They have to lay off most of their employees and house staff and because they are so entitled and lazy everything goes to crap. Literally. Their dozen mangy dogs are shitting all over the floor and everyone just walks around stepping in it. BLAH! Other pets in aquariums are starving to death because the kids are too lazy and irresponsible to feed them. Oh, and when her precious dogs die, she STUFFS them! Or skins them and lays their fur on top of the piano. It was all I could do not to vomit every five minutes. I searched online because I wanted to see if there was any currently information on them and their post-filming situation. They sued the film company for defamation! Really? If anything they should sue each other for making themselves look so badly!! Excellent documentary, but so repulsive I'm only giving it two stars because I should have turned it off.**

The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe was actually a three-hour mini-drama. It covers the sordid parts of her biography told to a psychiatrist she saw late in life. The actress (Kelli Gardner) who played her was phenomenal, the best rendition of Marilyn Monroe I think I've ever seen.  Susan Sarandon played her schizophrenic mother and that gorgeous Jeffrey Dean Morgan was Joe DiMaggio. Costumes were outstanding with most being replicas of Marilyn's famous dresses.  It was surprisingly excellent. ****

The Secret Scripture is one of those Irish horror movies where the bitter, jealous priest has a young newly-married woman committed to an insane asylum  for NYMPHOMANIA after she rejects his advances and marries another. Fifty years later when the institution is being shut down, a new psychologist comes in to re-evaluate the woman. Her file states she was pregnant at the time of her commitment. Rumor has it it was the priest's baby since her marriage was not known. Around nine months pregnant as she's watching the nuns give away the babies of other girls, she attempts to escape, swims the ocean and gives birth to the baby on the beach. Her records show she killed the newborn right after birth. She constantly talks about the baby to the orderlies as if he's not dead. They think she's crazy. Through the years she has kept a secret diary in a Bible for fear she will forget her memories due to the electromagnetic shock treatments they constantly give her. Outstanding performances, exceptional story. So many of my favorite actors in one film: Rooney Mara, Aidan Turner, Theo James, Jack Reynor, and Vanessa Redgrave.. *****

Sweet Bean is a Japanese film about a doriyaki baker with demons and the 76 year old woman who begs him for a job. He refuses her due to her age and possible inability to do the job. He uses canned bean paste which she tells him tastes like shit. She offers to make homemade bean paste. This, of course, has customers lined up around the block.  One of the customers notices her mangled, misshapen hands and it is discovered she is from the leper community.  Business grinds to a halt. It was a sad commentary on how we treat people we erroneously perceive as threats and the power of rumor. Sweet, sometimes slow, but good story. One always knows when it's a Japanese film - lots of food preparation and cherry blossoms. ***

Thelma was some kind of Norwegian supernatural lesbian movie...yeah, I don't know what I was watching. *

The Wall is a psychological thriller about two soldiers who have been casing an American construction site in Iraq after the war during reconstruction. All the workers have been shot and they are trying to figure out if it was an ambush now deserted or if there is a sniper waiting. After 20 plus hours the sergeant gets impatient and decides to chance it. The sniper shoots him and he's left laying out in the open. When the other solider comes to his defense, he also gets shot and throws himself over a wall for cover. He's pinned there. The sniper has access to his radio, asking him questions about his life while taking shots at him when he reveals his location. It's pretty frightening. The ending was surprising...just when you think it's over, it's not, then it kind of doesn't end. Very strange. Excellent performances. ****

Wonderstruck  This was such a weird movie with a disconnected story I was wonderstruck why anyone bothered to make it. It's about a boy in 1977 (WHY?) who's mother has died and he doesn't know his father. In a freak accident (lightning strikes the telephone he's using...REALLY?), he loses his hearing (HUH?), escapes from the hospital and takes a bus to New York in hopes of finding his father based on a bookmark he found in one of his mother's books. A parallel story takes place about a girl in 1927 who is deaf and she heads to New York. Both of them converge on a natural history museum.  It was so weird and the performances horrible. Now, some great actresses were featured: Michelle Williams (who I love) had a minor role as the boy's dead mother, and Julianne Moore was a silent screen actress who is the girl's mother. By the end of the movie they do present the connection between these two kids, but it was so desperately contrived and the plot so unrealistic it made me shake my head repeatedly and so violently I kept getting dizzy. It felt like a fantasy that didn't quite live up to it. I liked the cabinets of curiosity history, but instead of some kind of magical twist to bring the story to life it relied on pure coincidence to keep the plot moving.  So weak. *