So after watching Captain America: Civil War finally, all I have to really say is.... "Go Team Captain America!!!!!!" Unlike most of the other Marvel films, the Captain America films have gotten far better with each one, and also have gotten deeper; this one of course reaching the pinnacle thus far of the 3 films released. I am truly becoming "comic-booked out" but the Captain America films stand apart from the others. There are two plots going on in this film; one bad dude is seeking vengeance on the Avengers, and the other plot is the United Nations trying to control organized superheroes. Tony Stark is for the UN controlling the Avengers, and Captain America is not, and thus struggles ensue, and of course Bucky Barnes returns as the Winter Soldier further complicating matters. I really don't have to say much about the returning cast, although Chris Evans (Captain America) and Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man) really took it up a couple of notches in this film which was great; more intimate and human than fake superhero. I really enjoyed Anthony Mackie (Falcon), he's an excellent addition to the team. Scarlet Johnansson (Black Widow) perfection as always. Sebastian Stan was good as Bucky, but was awfully static considering. Don Cheadle is a great actor, but I really do not care for him as War Machine....it just doesn't seem to fit him. Jeremy Renner shot arrows as Hawkeye and witty quips...that's it. Paul Bettany as Vision was good, but static, but I really enjoyed Elizabeth Olsen as the Scarlet Witch. Paul Rudd's brief appearance was....amusing. Emily VanCamp finally got a larger role, and she did quite well with it. As for the new people, some were excellent some were....not. Tom Holland as Spider-Man was perhaps the only part of the film, aside from Paul Rudd, that I didn't like about the film. I'm sure he's exactly the kind of Spider-Man the filmmakers want, but I for once would like to see a new Spider-Man story start out with the character in college already and skip the obnoxious intro stuff. Not to mention the character is depicted as a kid that yacks on and on endlessly. Not really something I am really interested in. Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther was awesome; the best new character from the film absolutely. He presented himself in a compelling way, and his character had a reason for being there; he wasn't merely just haphazardly tossed in. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of him. Martin Freeman (CIA chief) and William Hurt (Secretary of State), and Marisa Tomei (Aunt May) were totally wasted talents; William Hurt should have had a far more prominent role, that was clearly not written well. And as for the other two, their characters weren't even necessary whatsoever; I don't even know why they were in there. Bad casting and writing award there.
The action sequences were relatively good; not too much over the top action, but there were times when more dialog would have been better suited than other ten minutes of punching, kicking, jumping, or flying. The Russo Brothers directed the film and are apparently also directing the Avengers: Infinity Wars, and they did a pretty good job. I would give props for the writing, but I think they really messed up on the villain; talk about severely anti-climactic, especially after The Winter Soldier, so I would definitely say that was a huge flaw in the film. Henry Jackman did the music, and it was relatively forgettable unfortunately, although he did far better on The Winter Soldier. I don't recall anything significantly amazing about the 3-D, but maybe I'm just getting used to it. There weren't any technical elements that really stood out in the film, but I guess they were far interested in 13 superheroes than anything else. It was definitely entertaining and enjoyable, and I have to say that I no longer really care for Tony Stark/Iron Man as a character after this film, I have become disillusioned with his character, and War Machine as well. I can't wait for Thanos to rip them all apart; now that will be fun. Oh, and there are some interesting parallels to what's happening politically in the world now, and what was going on in the film, try to see if you can spot it.
Captain America: Civil War trailer
Captain America: Civil War interviews
Beauty and the Beast trailer (looks like it will be amazing!)
So I'm slowly but surely making my way through all of the 2016 Oscar films. It took me a while, but I sat down and finally watched Room, and the title is not misleading whatsoever. Pretty much for the first half of the film there are only three actors, and primarily Brie Larson who plays the mom and Jacob Tremblay who plays the young son. Up to the point of the opening of the film the mother had been locked up in this room for 8 years I believe, while her son has known nothing else but existence in the room. She was kidnapped and raped for 8 years by the same man as he kept her hidden away. Brie Larson did a fantastic and brilliant job with the role; I think she captured the essence of what a rape victim that has been imprisoned would go through, especially the part of having a child born of rape. Kudos to her indeed. Jacob Tremblay played the young boy with conviction and power that I would think is uncanny for a young boy of his age, but he pulled it off quite amazingly. These two are the driving force of the entire film, and there is really no other reason to mention the rest of the cast, although good, did not have as significant of a presence or performance in the film. Joan Allen plays the captive young woman's mother and William H. Macy plays her father; both did an excellent job with their roles, although I would have liked to have seen William H. Macy given more screen time. The film is a powerful narrative about how to survive imprisonment, rape, abuse, and yet still live for those who love and need you; definitely a story needed for this age of hopelessness and despair. Now, this film is not for the faint of heart; you will cry and possibly be shocked and disgusted at times, though I will say there is nothing graphically depicted on the film thankfully as the allusions are enough to convey the seriousness of the depravity occurring. That being said, if you're a young mother you may have difficulty, or even a young father. This film narrates a story that I and others I worked with dealt with in mental health, and it's fairly tough to watch at times.
Granted, the film is slowly due to the fact that it is hard to be constantly dynamic when you're stuck in a small room, and the other actor is a small child, but all things given they did fairly well. The directing (Lenny Abrahamson) and writing (Emma Donoghue) was quite good, especially the writing which was also based on a novel written by the screenwriter as well. Brie Larson received an Academy Award for Best Actress, and the film received three other nominations for: Best Motion Picture, Best Directing, and Best Adapted Screenplay. I'd definitely watch it again, and I did like it, but it's one of those films I wouldn't frequently watch due to the intense nature of the subject material, but I would recommend it if you're interested. There are a lot of hurt and damaged people in the world and better understanding them would make huge strides in helping them. I think this film does an excellent job of creating awareness for rape, mental health problems, but ultimately hope and choosing to live and thrive for those who need and love us. Slowly but surely I am making my way through my musical, and am on Act II, so halfway there, but it is of course the second half that will be the more difficult to write, so we shall see how it goes.
Brie Larson interview
The BFG trailer (it looks interesting, but not at the same time).
The Assassin's Creed trailer (looks like it has some possibilities,
Working in the mental health field I've seen some pretty bad crap happen to kids and adults, but some of the hardest stuff I had to work with were clients that were sexually abused. One time I was very traumatized just hearing the recounting of what happen to a kid who was younger than 5, and was abused by his mother. I knew what the film Spotlight was about, but I didn't know the extent of it. I didn't really start paying attention to politics and news until 2009 when President Obama took office, ever since then I have done my best to know what was going on in the world around me, and everyone else needs to do the same thing, and get their news from a reputable source (this excludes: Facebook, CNN, CNBC, FOX, ABC, and CBS as they are oftentimes highly biased and filled with fluff to boost ratings). Pick up the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, New York Times, Washington Post, or Watch BBC News, PBS Newshour (can also catch the different segments of the newscast on Youtube), or Al Jazeera.
The film was very good, and very well done. It follows an investigative group of reporters who discover to what extent the Catholic Church leadership covered sexual abuse of children perpetrated by Catholic priests. Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schrieber, John Slattery, and Brian d'Arcy James all play the real people at the Boston Globe who investigated these horrific acts perpetrated by the Catholic priests. Stanley Tucci, Jamey Sheridan, and Billy Crudup provide excellent supporting roles. The cast was perfection, and that's all that needs being said, although I do have to say that Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo really shined. Everyone masterfully played their character, and I'm not certain to what extent it was factually representative of the real people, and what really happened, but even if it was just the spirit, I think that it was enough. Tom McCarthy wrote and directed the film along with Josh Singer, and all I can say yet again about the writing is perfection. It was some really, really good writing; compelling, emotionally deep, relevant, and thought provoking in the most numbing and astonishing way. Howard Shore did the music, but I barely noticed it, which I suppose sometimes is how you want it, but I can actually recall nothing musically from the entire film; Howard is one of those composers where it's either an amazing or bad score. Of course the film won Oscars for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best Editing. It was a truly great film and every person in the whole world needs to see this film, and understand why investigative journalism is important and how it is a great check against abuses of power and wealth. I will definitely see this film again.
Now I'm going to move onto the soap box part of my blog writing. I don't know how much of you are familiar with the history of the Catholic Church, but I'm going to say that the Catholic Church is most likely the most corrupt organization that has endured for the past 1500 years ever, period. There are the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the manipulation of political affairs in Europe, warmongering in Italy and the surrounding regions, a disgusting double standard of it's clergy and leaders, and perhaps worst of all were the indulgences which is what pushed Martin Luther to separate from the church during a time when Protestantism was on the rise in Europe. Throughout the world and throughout history many have done terrible things in the name of religious beliefs and ideals, but I don't even think Hinduism and Islam in regards to terrible things done in the same of religion can compare to the Catholic Church. And I think I know what it is that drives these priests mad; sexual repression. An uncomfortable topic it may be, but I've seen what this can do to people while working in the mental health field, and it isn't pretty. I also grew up in a very hostile/strict, religious environment and some of the worst kids in the church were usually the pastor's as well as the church leaders or "sacred families" as we called them. I have an idea of what could be done to solve the problem of what's going on with the Catholic church, but it is quite radical; I will say that reform will never help rid the church of it's centuries of slime and filth, something far bigger needs to be done. In the meantime though, people need to continue to think for themselves, ask the hard and uncomfortable questions, and to never let someone use power to take away another's. I hate bullies and self-righteous, religious hypocrites; this describes the worst of humanity in my opinion. Read good news. Stay informed. Or else, over the next 100 years, the United States of America will lose many of the freedoms we enjoy now all because people would rather read about the Kardashians rather than why a local union is covering up money laundering, or how the Dallas City Council is abusing amortization laws so that they can make money my forcing out "undesirable" businesses to make room for more desirable businesses. Trump says he can make America great again. I disagree. Everyday Americans can make this great country even greater all by themselves; a politician is not required.
Spotlight final scene (watch for the words that come it is truly numbing).
Even though I am getting to the point where I am all 'comic-booked" out, I still watch the stuff as some it looks interesting at least. Jessica Jones wasn't something I was initially interested in but then I spoke with my sister who said that it was good and thought I should consider watching it. So I did watch it, and much like the second season of Daredevil I felt like the show's first season was good at times, and then not so good; times where the characters were spot on and interesting, and then times when they were completely obnoxious. By the way, I know nothing about this part of the Marvel universe, so I am oblivious as to source material accuracy; I'm looking at the technical elements of the show, and enjoyment factor. Krysten Ritter plays Jessica Jones the main and title character, and I have to say that the actress did a fine job. The character isn't all that appealing in my personal opinion, but I do like seeing the darkness and drama unfold in a very real and raw sense with how the character was written. And Ms. Ritter did an extraordinary job bringing that character to life and making it believable. Rachael Taylor played Trish Walker, Jessica Jones' best friend. She actually came across as the moral compass for the show and all of the characters in it, which I thought was nice as it is usually the hero that has that role. She was funny, serious, intelligent, and a very strong positive female character; one of the better ones I've seen written as of late. Eka Darville plays Malcolm who is high for most of the series, but then due to some plot alterations changes and takes a larger role. He was actually a really great character, although I would have written a few things differently myself. David Tennant as the villain Kilgrave was utter perfection. Not only is this actor brilliantly talented, but he created a character who was dynamic and interesting; this villain is not flat and all powerful, but very real with real vulnerabilities. He was the best part of the show. Carrie-Anne Moss played Jeri Hogarth a high flying lawyer, and she was amazing. Slick and smooth and devilish, with great style. Mike Colter Played Luke Cage, and his character was very interesting and cool; definitely very likable, with a strong presence. Apparently he is also getting his own show for some odd reason.
So Jessica Jones is a private investigator with superhuman strength and a lot of personal problems with no people skills whatsoever. She has been mind controlled previously by this man and is trying to get on with her life, but this man is back and wants her back under his control. So this is more of a drama driven show than action, but there are some moments where there is some fairly intense stuff going on. It was very interesting and fascinating with excellent characters and acting, but oftentimes the weight of the drama and the stupidity of the characters would grate on my nerves a lot. The writing was relatively well done and the series was shot well. The pace of the plot was well thought out, and the risk factor that the villain posed was quite impressive as well. Never quite certain who was going to die next (a lot of people die). It was entertaining, but not certain if I'd watch it again...maybe for David Tennant's performance, but that's about it. Not a show for people who don't like dark or gritty; this show is not light and fluffy. In other news, I finished writing the lyrics for my songs in my musical and now I am putting together "the book" so that should be fun, despite the formatting being a pain in the neck. Soon it will be done though and perhaps I'll get some music composed for it and maybe get the whole thing off the ground; who knows.
David Tennant on the show Jessica Jones
Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them trailer 2 (looks really good!)
So I finally got around to seeing Mad Max: Fury Road after everyone kept telling me to see it, and after winning 6 Oscars. It's definitely a very unique film; basically one very large and extensive action/chase sequence that lasts for the duration of the entire film. What's exactly going on and why with the characters and their interactions with the environment isn't clearly explained at any given point, but it sounds like drilling for oil and climate change are the big reasons why what happened in the film happened. So basically this one really bad dude in the desert controls all of the water, and his wives/sex slaves/prized breeders run away with one of his chief lieutenants, Furiosa, to get to greener pastures and along the way they meet up with Max a former policeman (I think) who was also held captive by the evil dude's forces but then escapes per chance and helps the women out. The group of them then embark on an epic journey across the desert to reach their destination growing and learning more about themselves and the people around them. Charlize Theron was amazing as Furiosa; she was both powerful and empathetic with a tender love, but also still possessing the no nonsense let's get down to business behavior. Probably one of the best characters in the film. As for Tom Hardy, I went back and forth with him as Max. He does little more than grunt for nearly half of the film, and then says very little afterwards; however, when he does speak, it is very good and makes me kind of wish that he actually had more articulate lines. Clearly, he has mental health problems that he is struggling to cope with, and there is a great depth to him, but I don't think it was explored as much as it could have. Great character though. Nicholas Hoult as Nux one of the low life henchmen was at first unrecognizable and then as the film went along I started to recognize the actor. I actually couldn't stand the character, but then as he grew and changed he was most likely the second best character in the film, definitely a very talented man. The rest of the cast was good, but it was Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron that drove the film, but truly it was the profoundly epic and excellent cinematography and action that drove people to see and enjoy the film.
I give a lot of credit to the style and success of the film to George Miller the director. It must have taken incredible talent and gumption to pull off this film, so definite props to him for that. The writing was relatively good, although there was a lot of nonsensical moments where things were happening and you didn't know why and it was never fully explained unfortunately. So I get to beam again over Junkie XL (aka. Tom Holkenborg) who did the music for the film which worked so perfectly for the film, and I enjoyed it greatly. The man has talent, truly; his music has a powerful and vivacious energy to it. The true star of the entire film though was the cinematography though; it was breathtaking, gritty, and terrifying at times. John Seale must have needed a long vacation after being the director of cinematography for this film. The other big star of the film though was the action. All I can say is wow (and yes that is a technical word). It was nonstop, almost mind-numbing at times due to the sheer volume. The action was dynamic though and kept pace with what was going on with the story and characters, I was definitely impressed, and description won't do it justice; you need to see it if you haven't. There were some disturbing elements to the film, and one very highly disturbing scene which I will not go into, but I will say it if you're a young mother, then you can't watch this film. In this film you get showcased a taste of how depraved humanity can really become, and what I found so disturbing is that the filmmakers accurately captured the essence of what people could become like in another 100 years or so. Something to think about.
Junkie XL on composing the music for Mad Max: Fury Road
Interviews with Cast and Crew of Mad Max: Fury Road
Rogue One teaser trailer (This to me looks better than The Force Awakens did, hopefully it will not disappoint like Episode VII).
I remember watching Sherlock Holmes when I was 8 years old. Basil Rathbone played the great detective when I first saw him on the screen. The first ever story I read about him was the Hound of the Baskervilles, which was a junior version of the story my mum got me for my 8th or 9th birthday. Ever since then, I have been hooked on the detective and have watched many depictions of him on the screen, and read the books and stories of course. The best Sherlock Holmes in my opinion was played by Jeremy Brett, although Robert Downey Jr. is also quite good. When I heard that Ian McKellen would play an aged version of the man, I decided that would be delightful, and that is exactly what Mr. Holmes is in my opinion. Of course Ian McKellen shines as the timeless detective giving him both wit, humor, and great emotional depth, which was not something the character was keen on displaying most or any of the time. Laura Linney played the housekeeper Mrs. Munro, who was an interesting character, and someone I don't think they fleshed out as well as they could have, but she added a type of restraint and realism to the elderly Mr. Holmes' desires. Her son Roger, played by Milo Parker, was such a great contrast to not only the character of Holmes but to McKellen's great acting as well. The two of them paired together was refreshingly delightful and was how the film worked. These three formed the core of the film and there were some other supporting actors and actresses who did very well, one of which was Hiroyuki Sanada, who's had large roles in The Last Samurai and The Wolverine. In this film Sherlock Holmes is trying to remember his last case and why it so adversely affected him to the point he retreated from the world. His housekeeper and her son help him with his bees, and tend to him as he pieces together his last case which was so many years ago. Bill Condon did a fine job of directing the film, although his track record of films he's directed hasn't been very good. The writing and screenplay were pretty good by Jeffrey Hatcher as he adapted it from the novel written by Mitch Cullin, but I have to be honest and say that some parts dragged and things were occasionally boring. Mostly though, my attention was kept with very little distraction. Carter Burwell did a fine job on the music, but there wasn't anything that was overly memorable. The film was beautifully shot though; such exquisite cinematography by Tobias A. Schliessler, it really captured the beauty of the English countryside, and the refined interior of upper class London. All in all it was very lovely film and suited for children and family viewing alike. Definitely will watch it again, but it's not my favorite Sherlock Holmes to watch...that would be Jeremy Brett. Been busy writing the lyrics of my musical and so far so good, although much work remains to turn them into amazing songs, but the groundwork is there. I think I only have six more to go before I start writing the book. After that, who knows. I wish I could say ignore the news, but it really does seem like things are getting worse and worse on planet earth everywhere, and all of the people who should be inspiring are just merely saying how horrible things are. Not very comforting or helpful.
Mr. Holmes trailer
Ian McKellen on playing Sherlock Holmes
Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes (some good moments from the BBC series)
Let me start off by saying that I still think comic book themed films are being overdone. However, because of the money in box office receipts and products the studios reap I highly doubt they will be slowing down anytime soon. I didn't think that Batman vs. Superman was going to be that good, but I was surprisingly delighted with the end result of the film. So the film pretty much takes place right after the events of Man of Steel where Bruce Wayne blames Superman (along with some other people) for all of the devastation and death that has been caused since his arrival (this line of self-righteous thinking was at times a little preachy, kind of annoying) and thus he begins to go on a warpath to destroy Superman. But Clark Kent/Superman doesn't like the vigilante style of justice that Batman dishes out and decides to intervene; they clash and have a fairly interesting fight. In the middle pulling strings left and right is Lex Luthor, and boy does he pull the strings well. So after Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, and Christian Bale now, Ben Affleck dons the caped crusader's armor. Well, he wasn't dreadful, but he wasn't great either; I think he did well enough, but I don't think it was his performance that sold it. Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent didn't get as much character development as his counterpart, which would have been better, but he remained the moral compass and is that boy/chivalrous man that all men deep down wished that they were. Amy Adams did well as Lois Lane, even though at times her character seemed to really lack a purpose for why she was present. Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor was perhaps the most interesting of all the leading roles. He truly depicted psychotic evil in a way I've never seen it depicted before in this type of film or story; I was actually cheering against him (which isn't typical for me as I mostly cheer for the villains). Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman was great. I was actually pleasantly surprised how well they pulled off her entry since her character oftentimes does seem so over the top, but it was nicely executed, and I would have liked to see her have a larger role in the film, but what was there was good. And I do have to say that Jeremy Irons as Alfred was excellent, but that may be that I am biased since I think he is one of the most amazing actors in the world.
Now, I mentioned above that it wasn't Affleck's performance that sold the film, but rather it was Zack Snyder's direction of the entire project that made the entire film work; without him, I doubt it would have worked at all. Yes, he is one of my favorite filmmakers so there is a slight bias, but I have to say that I was impressed with the story (David Goyer gets a lot of credit for that). I don't remember ever being bored or that the plot wasn't on pace. The music by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL I thought was awesome, and worked so well with the film (Junkie XL is definitely someone I'll be looking out for in the film composition scene). What really worked was how all of the movie was filmed. There was excellent cinematography, fantastic sound design, and rather dynamic action sequences which has been lacking from a lot of comic book films (Captain America: The Winter Soldier was one that had all of that recently). The 3-D was also pretty good, although I may be getting so used to it, or was so engrossed in the film because I don't remember anything 3-D really standing out. I think it was a well done film, and was rather entertaining. From what I hear it doesn't follow the comics as closely as some would prefer, but it is after all an adaptation, and as a writer I can attest to the difficulty to bring something from page to screen. I would see it again, and I think a lot of people would enjoy it; it is dark, but that's probably another reason I enjoy it so much; the gritty realism, as opposed to Marvel's popcorn fantasy more often than not. It should be interesting where they go from here for the rest of the DC universe.
Batman vs. Superman trailer
Batman vs. Superman interviews
Alice Through the Looking Glass trailer (actually looks quite good).
So season 1 of Daredevil was amazing, so naturally my expectations for season 2 were equally set. Honestly, my take on the second season of this Netflix show is very much like a roller coaster. There were stretches of episodes where it was fantastic, then boring and irritating, then interesting, then ridiculous, then fantastic again. With that much fluctuation I can't really say that the second season was really that good. There was a lot of over the top drama happening amongst the characters that came off as juvenile and annoying frequently, especially with the character Foggy Nelson, whom I cannot really stand as a character. So in this season enter The Punisher and Elektra and a weird ninja organization (which was never really resolved or explained) and you'd think that with that combination this entire season would be in the bag, but not quite. The story revolved essentially around those two characters and all of the chaos and problems they created. Now I'm just waiting for Blade to pop in (that should be interesting; vampires in Daredevil). So Charlie Cox as Daredevil is perfect and his character got more complex and interesting in this season, but they could have made him more complex, but they really kept that "knight in shining armor" look for him, which really only seems to work completely for Captain America. They had several opportunities for him to become darker and complex, and they never went for it. Eldon Henson as Foggy Nelson was irritating in my opinion all of the time, and very, very preachy to a tiresome degree (there was a lot of preaching in this season from many characters). Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page did good with her character in this season, but her crusading naivety was also tiring as well; her character became more than just a victim and took charge of her life, but her naivety was quite taxing. So Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle the Punisher was for the most part awesome; the best scene in the entire second season was with him and Daredevil, but I don't think his character was explored very well and was used mainly as an element in action sequences. Elodie Yung as Elektra was also quite perfect, and even though I know very little about the character, I think she was definitely an improvement over Jennifer Garner. She was a great foil for Daredevil, I just don't think their relationship, or her character were fleshed out or written very well. There was a lot of predictable lover's drama going on, which was at times exasperating. Thank goodness for Scott Glenn as Stick and Vincent D'Onofrio as Wilson Fisk, even though they had smaller roles in comparison to some of the other characters, they were perfection and those episodes they were in tended to be the better ones. Both men are excellent actors and brought those qualities to their characters, and it really showed. Rosario Dawson was also good in the show with her nurse character Claire, but she was also quite preachy.
So the show was pretty much a bunch of shooting and killing for the first five episodes or so; I thought it was fairly boring, but then it finally got interesting and then was up and down after that for a bit. I really hope they don't give The Punisher or Elektra their own shows, I feel like that would be far too much, and personally I'm getting really comic booked out; that seems to be all that is coming out. Give it some time though, and the same thing will be happening with Star Wars. The second season of Daredevil was good, but not that good. Netflix I think is starting to have a problem with their shows where the first season is stupendous and then they have trouble following up with equally astounding seasons of their shows. If they want to stay in the long run of program creation they're going to have to find a way to make certain their shows are always getting better, not worse. Should be interesting to see what the future of Netflix and Amazon are, as well as traditional cable and satellite programming.
Daredevil season 2 trailer
Interview on Daredevil and Punisher characters
Ben-Hur trailer (new movie, new ideas....looks terrible).
"Do you know the main thing that separates a politician from the the rest of the species? A politician is the one who would drown a litter of kittens for 10 minutes of prime time." -Frank Underwood
So I have finished season 4 of House of Cards, and I have to say that the show redeemed itself after what I would consider a disastrous season 3. Frank and Claire finally came back together in a single united purpose (there were some surprises along the way) to fight their enemies, and it works so much better when it is like that as opposed to them being on separate paths. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are beyond divine, and fantastic and really continue to grow their characters. I'm a little bummed that Kevin Spacey doesn't speak as much to the camera as he did in the first 2 seasons, but the show is still very strong, and as long as the two mains keep coming up on top, I think it will continue to go that way. Michael Kelly who plays Doug Stamper (chief of staff) was a lot more flat of a character in this season than perhaps any other one I thought with season 3 being the most intense for him. Neve Campbell had a nice role in the season as an assistant to Claire, and Ellen Burstyn played Claire's mother which was a great story and character arc; the two had such great and powerful chemistry together. Jayne Atkinson as Cathy Durant (Secretary of State) came into a much more interesting character than in any previous season; she is a fantastic actress, and I love her character in this show. I like where they took Donald Blythe's character (vice-president) in this season; some really excellent character growth. One very excellently crafted character was the Republican presidential challenger Will Conway played by Joel Kinnaman; it's like watching a conservative version of Frank Underwood, very well done. Granted, season 1 is still the best in my opinion, and season 2 the second best, but then comes season 4 and I honestly don't even really want to rank season 3 as of yet (yeah, I think it was that poor). I will say that season 2 had the best ending with Frank assuming control of the presidency; the music and the staging and cinematography as he made his may to the desk in the oval office. It was great. Season 4 had a great ending as well, not as good as season 2, but it was awesome! I really like where the show is going now, and I hope the writers keep the Underwoods strong and powerful, and yes I know I am cheering for "the villains" and yes I did by a t-shirt from Target that had Underwood 2016 emboldened on it. I will not speak of current, American politics other than saying there are a few Underwood like candidates currently vying to become the next U.S. President. I'm looking forward to season 5 of House of Cards, although, I am now wondering how the writers are going to finish it all up. I would like to say that it was ironic that I watched the last episode of season 4 today of all days due to the terrorist attack that happened in Brussels (when you watch the episode you will understand). I don't know what it is like to be personally attacked by terrorists even though it has happened to my country a number of times, but it must be something beyond dreadful to experience, especially firsthand. May God comfort the people of Belgium and the victims and families who suffered personally in the attack, and may all of you find peace one day despite the fear, violence and hatred that Islamic terrorists are attempting to spread throughout the world.
When people think of Robert Downey Jr. their minds go to Sherlock Holmes or Iron Man. And granted he excels in those roles effortlessly, yet his skill as an actor really shines through in his fantastic performance in The Judge with Robert Duvall. Mr. Downey plays a Chiacago lawyer that oozes charm, skill, wit, immeasurable talent, and brims with assured confidence. He returns home to Indiana when his mother dies, to his splintered family and his father the Judge played by Mr. Duvall who is tough and estranged to his son. Both men are the center of the film and really make the entire story compelling and work so well. I was never bored as both the main characters made the film continuously compelling, and the supporting characters assisted in that regard as well. Vincent D'Onofrio played one of Mr. Downey's brothers and played someone who was vulnerable and soft, which I thought was a good departure of his usual roles. Jeremy Strong played the youngest brother, and I thought he was amazing as his character had a form of autism (I believe, although it was never stated) and how that behavior came in and weaved throughout his character and the film I was quite lovely. Vera Farmiga played Mr. Downey's former high school sweetheart, and she was both a breath of fresh air, yet a strong willful foil to his character. Billy Bob Thorton played a skillful and confident assistant district attorney, and was yet another good foil to Mr. Downey's character. Some good cameos included Dax Shephard, Ken Howard, Balthazar Getty, and David Krumholtz. I have to say that the film was directed and shot beautifully and so tastefully; at one point in the film as Mr. Downey's character is riding a bike down an Indiana highway in the country it reminded me of my own home and growing up in rural Wisconsin and the kind of things that I used to do with my sisters when we were younger. The screenplay was very well written, and provided that excellent material for the cast to shine so powerfully. I highly recommend this film, and if you like good character films, excellent acting, and a powerful story that is compelling than I suggest that you watch this film. In other news, I have progressed quite far on my musical and am working away on the songs, just started Act II and then once I have the songs finished I'm going to begin work on "The Book" itself and get some staging and all of the dialog written down. Work on Book 3 has been.......extraordinarily slow, but it is coming along. There isn't much positive news in the world either domestically or internationally; somehow (not to sound apocalyptic) powerfully evil men and women seem to be becoming ever more popular and powerful with each passing day throughout the globe. Aside from violent deterrents, the best form of opposition and containment of that is knowledge and discernment; the more people know, the harder it is to overcome them.
The Judge trailer
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children trailer (looks so good!)
Game of Thrones Season 6 trailer (should be interesting)
When I saw the trailer for this film I about died laughing, and thought that I would be equally hysterically delighted while I watched the film.....but that didn't up being the case. The film was entertaining to be sure, but there was a sort of chaotic, artistic confusion to the entire movie that didn't really seem to flow very well. Josh Brolin is a "hollywood fixer" from the 1950's that keeps movie stars in line, films on track, and smooths any quarrels or problems with the artistic personnel and the media. That is essentially the entire film; the major plot line is that a bunch of communists hold a big movie star for ransom....although in the United State's current political climate, I could see where people could get communism and socialism confused with each other (although Stalin is to communism as Hitler is to socialism). Anyways, the plot was pretty straightforward, but the line which ran from point A to point B was very....disjointed. All of the performances were fantastic by the actors and actresses. Josh Brolin was great, but not entirely a unique character to play, and he was perhaps the least funny of the characters, although I think he was supposed to me more serious than the others. George Clooney played the popular movie star that was kidnapped, and boy did he play a wussy dunderhead quite well. I think perhaps the finest performance, and most enjoyable goes to Alden Ehrenreich who played Hobie Doyle, a simple actor who typically played a western gun slinger who then had to play a serious role in a drama. He had a breath of fresh air, and there was something so believable, and humorous about his character, not to mention he and Ralph Fiennes had perhaps the greatest scene together in the entire film. It was difficult in the theatre since I felt like I was the only one laughing. Scarlet Johansson, Jonah Hill, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, and Channing Tatum all had good supporting role appearances. But Clooney, Brolin and Ehrenreich were the big players.
The casting was well done, the directing very well by the Cohen Brothers, as well as the writing...although it became somewhat convoluted during the scenes with the wannabe communists. The cinematography was pretty good as well, but nothing like No Country for Old Men or Fargo, which I thought were much better films in general, but shot much better as well, although granted Hail, Ceasar! was a much different type of film. Now in this film, there were several miniature like films: a western, a drama, synchronized swimming, musical (think Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh, which came off very awkwardly) and a historical epic (think Ben-Hur); that's all of them I think....there was a lot going on in the film simultaneously. Granted it wasn't always boring or confusing, but my overall first impression wasn't a very endearing one. The editing was very poorly done I think, which increased the potential likelihood for confusion to occur. I have to say that the miniature films were cool, but not weaved together ultimately in a way that worked to the story and characters' advantage. The Cohen Brothers did well, and many described this film as their ultimate, culminating film from all of their experience, but it didn't come off that way for me. Perhaps I need to see it again, which I will, but if I don't then I won't really be missing anything. I have something very off topic to share: be very careful when job hunting. I came across a very impressive job scam this past week, and if I hadn't done very thorough research, God only knows what would have happened. So be cautious, and remember to do very thorough research; a lot of nasty people are out there who are quite intelligent and crafty and willing to take advantage of people.
So I thought that after I saw D'Jango Unchained that I could actually enjoy and like other Quentin Tarantino films, but I don't know if that logic will end up working for me. In The Hateful Eight Mr. Tarantino does more of a western than his previous film. It actually looked really good, and it wasn't really that disgusting and gross until over half-way through the film with several funny moments along the way. The film is about a bounty hunter who is taking a woman to a town to be hung, who comes across another bounty hunter going to the same town. Due to a blizzard, the two men are trapped with a motley group of individuals in an old inn as they wait for the snow to clear up. Eventually it becomes almost a 'who done it mystery' that reminded me of an Agatha Christie play. Honestly the film had a lot of potential, but upon first viewing I was very bored most of the film. Tarantino's signature of very long back and forth heavy dialog scenes between characters was epic in this film. Samuel Jackson played the lead Major Marquis Warren, and he did an excellent job, but there is no mistake that he was Sam Jackson; the character embodied the man rather than the man embodying a certain character (this is seen in common with Harrison Ford, Bruce Willis, and Tom Cruise typically). Kurt Russell played John Ruth who was the bounty hunter taking his captive to the town to be hung. His character is a pretty straightforward rough and tumble guy, who doesn't take any nonsense. Not really that interesting of a character, but honestly none of the characters in this film really were. Walton Goggins played the new sheriff of the town that both bounty hunters are going to ultimately, and he is perhaps one of the more interesting characters as you're uncertain where he stands with much of what is going on. Tim Roth, Bruce Dern and Channing Tatum have good supporting roles, but they were all rather static.
Now Tarantino I think was going for a very stylized western (that takes place in Wyoming), and he pulled it off. I wouldn't say that I didn't like it, but I didn't really like that much either. How he presented the film was like a narrator telling a story with chapter headings and everything (quite literally), and I found it more distracting than interesting or entertaining. The cinematography was good, aside from the fact that it was all snow, so it became a little old after a while, and it's hard when the entire film essentially takes place in one large room. I wasn't really a fan of Ennio Morricone's score; it worked for the film, but listening to it on it's own, not that good. I'm not certain how he got an Oscar nomination for it, even though he is a fine composer. The screenplay was written well, but the ultra dialog dense moments should have been pared down a lot, and I wasn't particularly fond of the ending, and there wasn't really any character development, or as much as there could have been. I'm not certain what Tarantino was going for, but I could definitely see how it could be construed as being entertaining, and extraordinarily politically incorrect. If you like Tarantino films then you'll probably enjoy this one as well. Oh, I've now seen Star Wars: The Force Awakens 3 times now and like it much better than the first time, although I still have several of the same critiques about it, and the last time I saw I was actually kind of bored at different points in the film. It's beaten Avatar for the top domestic spot at the box office, and it looks like it may go all of the way to the top of the international and all time spot as well. I think Disney spent that 4 billion dollars acquiring Star Wars very well. Oh, and the world is still falling to pieces, happy new year, and I'm now 30 years old! Wow, time just keeps flying. May the Force be with us all, I think we're all going to need it.
Quentin Tarantino interview
The Hateful Eight clip
Captain America: Civil War trailer (looks really good)
There has been a lot of hype and mystery in regards to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (which I didn't get from the film why it is called that), so now that it has opened, is it worth all of the ardent chit chat has been given to it? Do not read any further if you have not seen the film and want to without it being dimmed or spoiled for you. Perhaps I will change my mind in time, but after my initial viewing of the film I want to strangle J.J. Abrams for what he did to it. Why, because it was like Star Trek with Star Wars elements in it as a general overview. First let me say what I liked the most; the characters. Rey played by Daisy Ridley was amazing; she was tough, funny, empathetic, smart, and just an amazing character played by a very talented woman ( iliked the British accent as well). Finn played by John Boyega was also great (probably had the worst dialog, and terrible implementation of his character, but he turned out alright). I liked the fact that he was a reluctant hero of sorts, like Han Solo from Episode IV, and he potentially has an interesting past which hopefully will be more explored in the future. Kylo Ren as Adam Driver was truly amazing, and possibly my favorite character from the film. He was brooding, powerful, but yet has empathy being Han and Leia's child that fell from the light to the dark. And yes I am always attracted to the darker characters. Poe Dameron played by Oscar Isaac was another favorite character of mine; great pilot, great actor, and a good agent; reminds me of Wedge Antilles and someone else all wrapped into a singular character. Obviously Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford were great, as was Peter Mayhew and Anthony Daniels; Mark Hamill had about less than a minute of screen time so he doesn't count. I was disappointed with Gwendoline Christie's lack of role in the film as Captain Phasma, the cool looking Chrome Trooper. General Hux played by Domhnall Gleeson was also weaker as a character than I would have liked for a powerful....officer I suppose. I was thinking he was going to be like Tarkin in some way. Andy Serkis as Supreme Leader Snoke was....interesting, but I am uncertain where that could possibly go, but he did a good job, though it was unclear what he is exactly a supreme leader of.
Technically, the film was well done. Special effects were good, the cinematography was okay, sound design, costume design were also okay. I was particularly looking forward to John William's score....but I felt it was flat, definitely his weakest of the 7 scores. I heard a lot of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade as well as some of his others scores, and there were no major themes, or grand, orchestral sweeping moments. I can't really remember any original musical cues that were composed specifically for this film. I will blame that on J.J. Abrams though, and the fact that George Lucas wasn't around to provide guidance. The action sequences were nothing new or dynamic really; all of it was basically taken from the original trilogy. This film was essentially an updated version of the old film, everything was reused; very little original plot points, designs or locations to name a few. It's difficult for me to articulate why I don't like this film that much; George Lucas had a very specific style that he did everything when he created and made Star Wars and anything that was a part of that universe since it all came from his imagination, he knew what worked and what didn't. Granted it was a good film and millions of people will love it, but it just isn't true Star Wars in my opinion because it is missing George Lucas' vision. Say what you want about the man, but when it comes to storylines, designs, cultures, ships, costumes, weapons, action sequences, and film technology that man knew what Star Wars was and not having him oversee anything I firmly believe ended the true Star Wars films. Oh, and the 3-D was boring, I don't recall anything really popping at all, and the lightsaber sequence while I'm at it, wow that was really unimpressive, not to mention very ridiculous. What was chosen to focus on as a story of all the things that could have been chosen and the approach to them that was taken, very disappointing and poor choices galore. And I will close on the terrible ending of the film, or rather boring, uneventful, and awkward as well a little. The film was entertaining, and interesting, but as a huge Star Wars fan I was not impressed. For me Star Wars just isn't about one trilogy or another, old versus the new, good action sequences or bad ones; it's about the mythology, the universe in which all of these stories are told, and I don't believe this story stayed true to the grand mythology that has become Star Wars.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens interviews
Independence Day Resurgence trailer (looks like it could be good)
Star Trek Beyond trailer (this looks good, but confusing)
"Happy Hunger Games....and may the odds be ever in your favor," will no longer be catch phrases in the dystopian society of Panem. I will not provide any specifics about part 2 of Mockingjay, but I will say that it all ends, although in my opinion rather anti-climatically. The Capital defends itself viciously against an encroaching rebel army in part 2, and we see how the downfall of President Snow occurs. Aside from that and typing up loose ends, that essentially sums up the film minus of course a few surprises that could shock many, but I wasn't surprised at all by them. I'll just come right out and say it, I didn't care for the film that much; I felt that it was lacking something that the other films possessed. I'm working on a theory that films that are split into 2 parts, the final part tends to be the weaker than the first. This I found true for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. MockingjayPart 2 I found to be the weakest of the four films, due to I think it lacking an overall story structure as the other films had, and poorer writing than all the other films. It didn't feel like the end to a climactic rebellion, and even the very end felt...hollow. There wasn't really any new cast members of significance, and all of the cast members from the previous films did great. Honestly, I wasn't impressed by anyone's performance, and nothing stood out at all like moments from the other films despite all of the crying and hardened looks that this film had. I'm actually trying to think, and really the only person's performance that I enjoyed was Donald Sutherland's as President Snow, which was small unfortunately. Oh wait, I forgot about Josh Hutcherson as Peeta Mellark, and he did fantastic, but it didn't seem like they gave him a lot of good material to work with. Liam Hemsworth as Gale was so flat; that man can't act, at least as a genuine, dynamic character. The action sequences were okay, but nothing really spectacular or interesting. Honestly, there wasn't anything remarkable about this film that I can recall, which is a real shame considering all of the films that came before it were very well done. It was an entertaining film, but honestly it's not something that I'd want to see again, or often. They should have just made one film rather than splitting it into 2 parts; they would have then had a stronger finale instead of merely stretching it out just to make more money, even though they will say it's to provide more details and a richer adaptation, which I don't believe is true. The film brings everything to a close, but not very well. I would only advise it to be seen just to finish off the series, but that's about it.
Mockingjay Part 2 interviews
Mockingjay Part 2 clip
Zootopia trailer (this made me laugh so much)
(came across this short film and found it quite fascinating; food for thought)
About a week ago I saw the latest James Bond Film Spectre and had a lot of high hopes and high expectations for the film, but my initial impression was of great disappointment and honestly I expected so much more. James Bond is hunting down a lead that "M" (Judi Dench "M") gave him before she died, and it leads him through a tidal wave of intrigue that circles all the way back to the events of Casino Royale. During this investigation he comes across the organization Spectre which seems to be at the center of many of his previous enemies and the cause of many deaths as well. There is no denying the excellence of Daniel Craig as James Bond, though not in my opinion his best of the four he has now done, though there was a lot of potential for it to be one of the finest. Actually now that I think about it, there wasn't anyone in the cast that really stood out in my opinion. Granted Christoph Waltz was the villain and he was good, but he didn't really have enough screen time to really stand out and define himself as an excellent character. Ralph Fiennes as the new "M" wasn't that impressive, but I think that had more to do with the writing, and Naomie Harris as Moneypenny was okay as was Ben Whishlaw as "Q". The Bond girls that Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux played were also okay, but nothing really interesting or special, although I wish that Ms. Bellucci's character would have had more depth and prominence as her character was far more interesting, but what can you do. Dave Bautista (Guardians of the Galaxy) was a secondary villain, but didn't say a word; he was pretty useless. The remainder of the cast was good, but as I mentioned none of them really stood out.
Now Bond films are usually action films, and there was plenty of action in this film, but I think that it generally sucked across the board. There were a lot of foot chases and car chases sequences, as well as shooting sequences and running sequences, but I cannot recall any of them being dynamic or interesting all I was thinking of was..."oh goody, another car chase..." and then it was back to drama and dialog which were not written very well. All of this is what directs me to my perception of the film being mediocre at best after the initial viewing, but who knows perhaps I will grow to like it....possibly. Honestly, I just didn't really care for the direction that Sam Mendes (the director of this film and Skyfall) took in regards to the Bond franchise. Personally, I think Casino Royale is the finest of this series of Bond films; excellent dialog and characters, good writing, dynamic action sequences, original, and it retains that balance of new Bond with old Bond quite well. I may have to watch all of the Bond films again, but Casino Royale and Tomorrow Never Dies (first Bond film I ever saw) I think are the finest Bond films of the ones out there. Anywho. It was entertaining, and if you like action and James Bond then you'll love this, but if you don't see then don't worry you aren't missing a whole lot.
"Remember, remember the fifth of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot." -V
Good evening. Today once again is one of my favorite holidays, Guy Fawkes day. It is what I commonly like to consider as a reminder that any people can tear down their government and replace it with a new one if it becomes corrupt and no longer serves the majority of that population. All over the world more and more governments are clamping down little by little individual rights of its citizens in the name of greater freedom and security. China, North Korea, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Belarus, Myanmar, Syria, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Cuba, and Venezuela are what I would consider countries where human rights and civil rights are either severely curtailed or nonexistent. In these countries, dictators and iron fisted governments reign uncontested and unopposed without a measure of control or accountability irregardless of what they want people to think. Russia, Egypt, Turkey, and Indonesia are countries where civil liberties and human rights are really beginning, or have been, trampled on with more sure to follow. The United States is not immune to this either, as we have seen our civil liberties severely stomped on; NSA spying on citizens, the Federal Government dictating to the states, increased usage of presidential executive authority usurping authority from Congress, and a slow chipping away of free speech and the right to bear firearms (both of which are guarantees in the US constitution). What everyone should watch out for from their government is when they try to eliminate freedom of the people through use of fear of what could happen if the people do not surrender their rights. Governments that use fear to motivate and rule their people are dictators and places like Russia and China (i.e. China's now defunct population control plan). Governments should be protecting and empowering their citizens to govern themselves always, after all that was a large part of the American Revolution. Unfortunately, even when revolution happens people have trouble forming a new government (Iraq, Libya, Russia, China, and Iran) that functions properly and serves the people while retaining the revolutionary ideals. I won't get into what is necessary for rebuilding a country and it's form of government, but I will say that it takes work and everyone working together. As I always try to say, be watchful of your freedom as oftentimes it slips away slowly, bit by bit and then before you know it you are left with nothing. Good luck everyone and remember, "people should not be afraid of their governments, governments should be afraid of their people.."
So there were a couple of standout items in the news this past week, one of which was China disregarding it's one child policy in favor of a two child policy due to their declining in age population and a smaller workforce unable to adequately meet the needs of the apparently booming Chinese economy. Which is probably too little too late with how many decades it will take their population to recover. The other bit of news is that President Obama is sending US soldiers to Syria to....well, I'm not really sure to do what, or if the general public really knows what either. I was never for that, and think that it is a grave tactical error currently as well. I'm not certain what the current solution should be to solve the mess of the crisis in the Middle East, but I doubt that it should be that; too little, too late. Speaking of crises, I watched the film Bridge of Spies today and received an interesting, if not pop cultured centered education in life during the early part of the Cold War thanks to the film directed by Steven Spielberg. Once again he showcased his talent as a fantastic director in all of the usual areas; I wouldn't say that this film stands out in any particular way, but it was definitely worth seeing and was well done. It is about an attorney who defends an accused Soviet spy and receives a lot of negative attention because of it, but then he becomes wrapped up in prisoner exchange involving an American pilot who gets captured. He then has to navigate the treacherous politics of Soviet tactics in East Berlin and carefully reach his objective without getting himself killed or anyone else. Tom Hanks who plays the main character, James Donovan, does masterfully. He comes off as genuine, competent, empathetic, yet has a sense of depth to his character as well; definitely not static. However, it wasn't that impressive of a character either; basically in his repertoire nothing that would really stand out. Mark Rylance, who played the spy Rudolf Abel, was a fun character that I would have liked to see more character development from, but he did really well with what was there. He and Tom Hanks together in scenes were awesome. Those two were really the main attraction of the film, but Alan Alda, Amy Ryan, and Dakin Matthews had some nice roles as well, none were very large but it added to the overall high quality of the cast present. The writing of the film was well done by Ethan and Joel Coen, as well as Matt Charman, but I'm not not entirely certain about the screenplay. It seemed fragmented; like a one man show, and I'm not certain how well that plays out as opposed to something that could have included more drama between a few more characters. The music by Thomas Newman was a huge surprise as I feel this is the first Steven Spielberg film in over forty years that he hasn't used John Williams, and that's all I can say about that as I have never cared for Thomas Newman's music. The cinematography was well done by Janusz Kaminski, but seemed like it lacked a certain edge to give it that dark, spy like feel. It was a good film, and a pleasant watch and it is something that I would definitely watch again.