Well happy late Merry Christmas to everyone! The past few days have been relatively nice and relaxing, which has been an excellent diversion from the norm as of late. One of my family's Christmas traditions that I partake in yearly aside from watching Ernest Saves Christmas is when we go to the theatre on Christmas day to watch a film. This year we watched Into the Woods, which I was very excited about. After watching Sweeney Todd I decided to familiarize myself with Stephen Sondheim's other work, and thus I listened to Into the Woods although I didn't really care for it at first that much until I watched a performance of it on Netflix. After that I was sold, and as soon as I heard that they were making a film adaptation, I was looking forward to it very much so, even though Disney was behind it, which I thought was odd considering some of the dark subject matter at times, but I suppose it really does fit overall considering the fairy tale aspect. So needless to say, I enjoyed the film, and thought that it actually works perfectly more for the screen than the stage due to the fanciful nature of the story. Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife was beyond perfect; she had an excellent singing voice, great acting of course, and fantastic chemistry with everyone she interacted with, especially with the Baker, James Corden, who delivered an equally great performance, although his voice wasn't quite as polished. Both were funny, excellent levels of drama, and were believable as their characters. Meryl Streep as the witch needs so description as how well she did; utter perfection as usual. Anna Kendrick as Cinderella was in my opinion perfect (although my sister disagreed); excellent singing, great acting with the character, it was lovely. Those cast members who played other roles such as Jack, Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf (Johnny Depp), the Two Princes (Billy Magnussen and Chris Pine) Jack's Mother, Cinderella's stepmother, and Rapunzel all did an excellent job both singing and acting...although Chris Pine could have used more voice lessons, but it wasn't painful at least. The adaptation was fairly accurate and well done. Only some chorus pieces were left out and some story angles, but nothing major. Cinematography was stunning, the Wardrobe design by Colleen Atwood was of course equally stunning, Stephen Sondheim of course was a master composer and those who adapted it did quite well. Rob Marshall as the Director (Chicago) seems to be a master with musicals thus far, hopefully he continues the trend if he does anymore (here's hoping he does Wicked). I would encourage everyone to see the original Broadway performance starring Bernadette Peters (it's on Netflix I believe); they did a fantastic job paying an homage to the Broadway show throughout the film. It was a very enjoyable film, one I will definitely own and see many times, and I would encourage everyone to see it as well. Very humorous, interesting, exciting, and filled with some very interesting ideas and philosophies. Oh, and in other news; don't mock and ridicule a powerful man in charge of a powerful government with the largest standing army in the world unless you're prepared to face and ride the consequences through the end. End of story. Have an excellent weekend everyone!
After 13 years of Lord of the Rings it all (most likely at least) comes to a close with The Hobbit: The Battle of the 5 Armies. Well, it was much better than the 2nd film in the trilogy at least. Honestly though, there was something missing about the whole film. I enjoyed it, but it seemed like something was lacking from the narrative. First of all, visually it was stunning; Peter Jackson remains superior in his ability to film cinematography that is stunning, and create such a visual feast. Areas he seems to be improving upon are his action sequences; they're becoming much more dynamic and interesting, but he still does over the top things that come off a little ridiculous at times. This the 3rd Hobbit film came across to me as one very large, and expansive action sequence, much like the final Harry Potter film. All of the performances were excellent, though the ones that stood out of course were Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin; they were of course the best characters to watch interact with others, and more importantly with each other, although Lee Pace as Thranduil was pretty awesome to watch (I really enjoyed his character). I could have done without Luke Evans as Bard and everyone else from Laketown; if all of them would have been eliminated from the film I would have loved it more (I thought it took away from the main narrative, and the people were just so boring, obnoxious and just not interesting). Cate Blanchet, Christopher Lee, and Hugo Weaving all had a nice part in the film, which was part of one my most favorite scenes (see preview below). The writing/screenplay was better this time around than opposed to the 2nd film, but still not as good as the first film, and the same goes for Howard Shore's score which was good, but the music from the 1st film in my mind was far more superior. There can be no complaints about the special effects which were amazing, but the 3-D could have been much better; not a lot of things popped out of the screen, there was mostly just depth to the scenes in general. As for accuracy to the book....it's been a while since I've read the book, so I'm not entirely certain, but it seems relatively accurate save for the liberties they took with some characters and the timeline. All in all, it was a very entertaining film and I think I would watch it again, possibly even own it, but was it amazing and breathtaking......no. I left the theatre thinking "eh, that was nice." It should be interesting to see what Peter Jackson does now with his time and energy. I would personally like to see him direct a historical epic and give Ridley Scott a run for his money, or the same idea but do science fiction. Winter begins today apparently, and there are only ten days left of 2014, and four days until Christmas. Have fun celebrating the rest of the year, until 2015 begins. And think about this, only 85 years more until 2100.
Documentary Overview on The Hobbit & Lord of the Rings
So thankfully after a very long and busy week I am finished with school for the 2014 year, and I only have three terms remaining for my masters program! It is such a relief to not have to worry about school while also working for the time being, and hopefully work begins to slow down as well. People have been extraordinarily mentally ill lately for some odd reason, I think it is because of the fluctuations in temperature, but my co-workers believe it is the holidays which are making the people a little more crazier than usual. It's hard to believe there are only approximately 15 days left of 2014; how time flies, regardless if it is pleasurable or not. So today I went to see the new film Exodus: Gods and Kings which is the new adaptation of the Moses story from the Hebrew historical book of Exodus. Several film adaptations of the account have been done, but none so famously as Charleston Heston in The Ten Commandments as the lead character Moses, and Yul Brenner as Ramses. This adaptation starred Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses, both of which delivered excellent performances. Now according to what I heard about how Ridley Scott wanted to design the film, he wanted to take the miraculous out of equation and instead take a more rational approach. Like traditional Ridley Scott, he was able to capture the period perfectly, and have relatively good epic action, though I still think that Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven are amongst his finest work. The cinematography was exquisite, the costume design sumptuous, and the music by Albert Iglesias was actually pretty good, and although I love choral music, I think that Latin should not have been utilized. I was even impressed by the usage of 3-D in the film; Mr. Scott used it very well, although still not to the degree that he could have. So Christian Bale as Moses, who would have ever thought, and I thought it was going to be a dreadful decision, but it actually worked fairly successfully; he gave Moses a more real look and feel rather than something overly Puritan and fantastic. The same thing goes for Joel Edgerton as Ramses, although so much of him was heavily westernized unfortunately, but that went for most of the film as well. The supporting cast like Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, and Sigourney Weaver did very well. My main complaints were rather academic. First of all, the film was heavenly westernized in terms of values, morals, perspectives, and cultural norms which was rather aggravating. This came in terms of the relationship between Moses and Ramses, Moses and his wife, Moses and his son, and the role of religion and spirituality during that era. Perhaps the screenwriters should have read Joseph Campbell's work on mythology. Another problem I had with the film were the historical inaccuracies regarding the account of Moses, particularly with what is in the book of Exodus. Lastly, how God was represented was kind of odd; He was manifested as a young boy and spoke with Moses as if the two were on the same level, and Moses showed no reverence towards Him. I forgot to mention the screenwriting which was okay, but not great and it could have been far better. What the film did was make the account of Moses much more realistic and something that you could relate humanly to; that he did very well. With the exception of a few moments, I enjoyed the film; the plagues were done well, although he skipped the fire and brimstone one. If you like epic films, or the historical genre of film as I do then you will like it. I tip my hat to Herr Director Scott, but I still wish he would make a film about the rise of Babylon.
So, yes this is about a week after the fact, but hey did you know that the teaser for Star Wars Episode VII was released? Well, it has and is slated for A 2015 December release for some odd reason; not sure why Disney wants to release it in the winter months (so much for people camping out and waiting in lines like they did for Episode 1). I'm going to over analyze the trailer just review highlights that peaked my interest. First of all, we have the dessert, followed by a stormtrooper, an R2 unit, someone on an ugly speeder, more stormtroopers, and X-wing fighter, and then we get to some dude walking through the woods and ignites a t-shaped red lightsaber, and then we have the Millennium Falcon and Tie Fighters. So, aside from the shape of the lightsaber, none of that other stuff was original; all of it essentially came from the original trilogy. That did not impress me. There was no scope or depth to the cinematographic shots in the trailer. And there was no hint to the storyline of the film whatsoever. Now granted, it was exciting and interesting, but I came away unimpressed; I am merely curious to see how J.J. Abrams is going to pull this off. Thank God John Williams is scoring the film, otherwise the film would have issues. As for all of the ridiculousness over the lightsaber, well educated Star Wars fans should know that specific lightsaber shape and form has its roots in ancient galactic history with the early Sith and Jedi, especially Sith Lords like Naga Sadow, Freedon Nadd, and Marka Ragnos....yes I know too much about this world. Well there you have it. In other news. I hope that everyone's Thanksgiving was lovely. I hosted and cooked for my family gathering this year and it was quite delicious. I made the pies, the turkey, bread, prepared the table and most of the other dishes; it was all awesome. The turkey was so juicy and tender; it was the best Turkey I've ever made. I actually ate too much food and slipped into a food coma for the rest of the day. I just began doing Tai Chi earlier this week, and have been trying to do it every night with good success thus far. I haven't gotten down a lot of moves yet, but the one I'm working on is "Parting the Wild Horse's Mane." The moves aren't too hard, but rather it's the fluidity and sequence of them that can be the challenging part. I definitely encourage people to try it; good for the mind and good for the body. Well there are essentially only 20 days left until Christmas. Tis the season. Have an excellent day everyone.
So this weekend went by too fast, although the good thing is I have a shortened week due to the Thanksgiving holiday; thank God for that one woman who really pushed one of our previous presidents to make it a national holiday. I feel like I was supposed to get more done than I did, but oh well, what can one do. So I should be writing more if I have free time, but I don't seem to have the energy and motivation, which really sucks. I decided once more that I need a clone, which can go to work for me while I write and chill; that would be perfect. Okay, so I am one of those people that enjoyed The Chronicles of Riddick, so I thought that I would like the follow up film Riddick, and although I didn't find it dreadful, it wasn't really that great either. I'm not really a big fan of the scenario of being trapped on one planet and trying to get off by outsmarting a bunch of mercenaries while wild animals are killing everyone. It was therefore kind of dull, and the ending was very anti-climactic. I like the character of Riddick, and I like the look and feel of the film, and some of the other characters were good, but honestly, it was all kind of blah like and a let down. Vin Diesel was excellent as Riddick of course, since he created that character I highly doubt anyone else could pull it off. The rest of the cast was fine, small, but fine. I'm not certain how Western Christianity and Hispanic culture figures into the Riddick universe, but it wormed its way into there somehow and came off as really....well...out of place and awkward. If you don't see it, then you won't miss anything; it was entertaining, although I was distracted with something else while I was watching it the majority of the time so that might not have helped much. I wouldn't encourage people to go and see the film, but at the same time if you like that kind of mind numbing action then you will love this film. So there's not a whole lot of good news in the world; either we're getting over the Ebola scare, or the news media just finds what's going on in Iraq and the Ukraine much more interesting, aside from the rancor of American politics. I don't know if any of you have ever reached that point when you've spoke, and spoke, and spoke, and spoke your mind and heart out for so long and nothing happens, it's a little disheartening. That's how I feel about the mess that has been unfolding in Syria for over 4 years and has now destabilized the entire region and threatens to undermine over a decade of hard earned American and Iraqi sweat and blood in Iraq. The unfortunate thing of it is I don't think it will ever get better; the window of opportunity for positive, effective change has slammed shut for good and European and American powers have poisoned the well of good will for at least a couple of generations of people over there. Such a shame. Still, we should keep those people in mind, and those that battle and fight against tyranny across the world in an effort to have the basics of freedom. I am very thankful for all of the freedoms I enjoy. Goodnight and good luck everyone.
So today I watched The Hunger Games: The Mockingjay Part 1, and I enjoyed watching it immensely. However, the two young...girls that I was sitting next to were less than enthused; the first words out of their mouths as soon as the credits began to role were "oh my god, what a f....ing disappointment. My whole day is ruined now. That was not supposed to be how they did it..." There was some additional ensuing conversation, but I ignored them. Needless to say my critique will not be that harsh by any means. I have only read the first book, which was good, and I have yet to read the other two, so my critique purely looks at the film, not at how well it was adapted to the screen. So I will start off by saying that I really enjoyed the film; it was well written, well acted, well cast, well shot, and well paced all for the type of film it was. Jennifer Lawrence is as always amazing and fantastic; more than ever she is depicted as tormented and deeply conflicted as war opens between the Capital and the Districts and she is thrust headlong into it all. She had some really powerful moments captured on film that brought tears to my eyes almost. Josh Hutcherson as Peeta had a small role in this part, but I believe it will be more sizable in part 2. Liam Hemsworth as Gale didn't really impress me as a character this film; very flat and blah like, and he was acting really....well...macho like for lack of a better term. Characters that had smaller roles, but did well were: Philip Seymour Hoffman as Plutarch, Julianna Moore as as the rebel President, Woody Harrelson as Haymitch, Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket, and of course Donald Sutherland as President Snow was awesome (he does such an excellent villain, and President Snow is such an amazing villain). The film kept good pace, and thus was edited well. I honestly don't recall much of James Newton Howard's score, so I think they should have gotten someone else to add more pomp into the film score. The cinematography was pretty good, as was the lighting. The screenplay was also well written, and the dialog wasn't ever ridiculous from what I could remember. Perhaps my biggest complaint was that although the film could essentially stand alone, it did feel like it was missing something and I'm wondering if it was a good idea to split the book into 2 films rather than just having a longer film. To each their own I suppose. I would recommend the film, I think it raises some valuable questions and ideas that people should consider, and it was very entertaining.
So after watching Christopher Nolan's Interstellar I have come to the conclusion that every good film director is allotted one or a few flops on his or her resume. Not that this film was a complete flop (financially), and perhaps I do need to see it again, but honestly I was bored almost out of my mind; if it had been any other director than Nolan, I might not have found the film interesting at all. These were the positives that stood out enough for me to remember: good writing (the screenplay), one really good cinematic shot of Saturn, excellent performances by the cast, and some really cool robotics. Other than that, I can't recall anything else that was impressive, stunning, or awe inducing. Mathew McConaughey as the main character was perfect and perhaps the best part of the entire film; he was likable, sympathetic, interesting, and compelling. Anne Hathaway was perfect as well; cautious, practical, and deeply wounded and emotional however once you get past the insulated facade. Jessica Chastain was another good choice (albeit she had a smaller role than did her justice), John Lithgow was another gem that seemed rather wasted on a diminished role as McConaughey's wary father in-law. Michael Caine was....well....Michael Caine; nothing interesting, different, or bad. Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan did an excellent job with the screenplay, but the story was boring and not made to be as compelling as it could have been. The same goes for the characters; although the performances were great, and a fantastic cast was assembled, none of them were really fascinating enough that made you want to get to know them even more. I wasn't really impressed by Hans Zimmer's score for the film; it reminded me a lot of Watchmen, and a little like Inception, but not nearly as compelling (perhaps that has something to do with the content of the film). Perhaps most disappointing of all was the cinematography, lighting, set decoration and design; one descriptive word for all 3 "blah." There was nothing really grand in the shots really, the color scheme was bland and mostly back and grey, and the design for most of the onscreen tech was ugly, and not shaped well (with the exception of the robots which worked well, although quite strange at first). I would find the film interesting for a while, and then I would be bored for a long while, then something interesting would happen, and then I would get bored again. This describes my film experience in general, ending in a very confused state. I'm sure I will see it again when it comes out on DVD, but for now, I don't think that I'd miss anything. I wouldn't encourage people to see it, but if you have the time to burn then why not. Switching gears, it has become quite frigid in the Midwest; it's snowing and everything is white and frozen. Needless to say, I miss San Diego more than ever once again. I suppose that provides me with enough motivation to keep things going and get away from the frozen tundra. Things have slowed down, I think in part because of the weather change, so there is a silver lining of sorts to the dreadful change in temperature. Well, there it is. May the Force be with us all, oh and if you haven't seen it yet Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is the title for the new film. Should get more interesting.
"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 For Vendetta
I thought that it was ironic that November 5 fell on right after election day over here in the U.S. where the Republicans trounced the Democrats and took back control of Senate and maintained control of the House; the see-saw of politics continues on (at least some things are predictable). Probably one of the most interesting races of the night for me was that the incumbent governor of Illinois was ousted by a new Republican challenger; we shall see how he does as the last vestiges of Rod Blagovicich (or however you write his name) are swept away. We'll see if this governor remains out of chains and if he can do anything positive about this state, or if indeed all of Illinois is ruled by Chicago. So apparently all of the mentally ill people decided to flood out of the woodworks the past couple of weeks as my job has been an unmitigated nightmare. And school is back in full swing again, so that has been.....well, challenging. I have a feeling I am really going to enjoy my degree once I acquire it and am able to utilize it in the capacity that I desire, but right now I truly hate grad school. Another ridiculously tragic occurrence is how cold it has been getting over here in the chilly tundra of Illinois; how I long for the warm, sunny beaches of San Diego. So in true form I celebrate Guy Fawkes day every year, and thus one year later where is the world in regards to liberty? Farther away sadly. I think perhaps one of the best examples of what the film V For Vendetta means to me is what happened over in the Ukraine; the people overthrew a corrupt government that was being puppeteered by Vladimir Putin and his Russian associates, and created something better, something that reflected what the people of Ukraine wanted and needed. This is what is trying to be done in Syria, and what was attempted in Egypt, Tunisia, China, and Libya; it hasn't gone as well in those places as it did in Ukraine, but Russia isn't making it easy for them either. Freedom is an idea, and it only grows if suppressed; all humans hunger deeply for freedom (along with lust and power) and will sacrifice often to acquire it. Even though we in Western civilization have nearly unlimited freedom, I have been noticing in greater frequency that we are getting more laws, ordinances, rules, guidelines, amendments and other political and legal jargon like words that are forcing people to do things they don't want to do. Even though they are small, that's how it begins; that slippery slope that nobody sees coming, not even after hit it hits you. It's only in hindsight that everything becomes clear. I would prefer that to not be us, any of us in the world. So hopefully everyone used their noodle effectively when they voted, because as unpleasant as it sounds, and I'm sure people don't like thinking about it, Hitler and the Nazis were at first voted into power. Well, there is the soap box for today. I would like to write more frequently, but I doubt that will happen; no time and no energy. Good luck, and good night all.
What can one write after reading and hearing all of the news in the world but, "crap." Between a good portion of the world's population panicking about Ebola, and then all of the wars and violence in the Middle East, followed by the oppression of Russia, China, North Korea, a good many Arabic states, and countless other countries, not to mention the economic outlook isn't quite so optimistic, I guess "crap" is all there is to say (although I am certain one could arrive with much more colorful metaphors to describe reality). There are 2 big days coming in the first week of November, First up is Mid Term voting for the United States (please go out and vote for the individual who has brains and uses the ones in the head, not the ones in the lower parts of the body), the second big day is of course one of my favorite holidays "Guy Fawkes Day" the 5th of November. For the next 7 weeks I shall endeavor to work hard to complete my last 2 courses of 2014 for my graduate program, and then I shall only have 3 terms left before I graduate! What a relief that will be, and then hopefully I will be returning to San Diego, my home. In the past few days I've watching a few films I have never seen, and thought I'd share a brief opinion on some of them. John Carter had a lot of potential, but sucked; poor writing, poor design, poor music, poor everything really except for special effects possibly. 2012 was equally full of potential, but ultimately I believe it fell short. A flat, predictable story line focusing too much on mega special effects and not the type of character intimacy that the film should have possessed. Oliver Platt was awesome, and so was Woody Harrelson. Other than that, I was mostly annoyed with most of the major characters. This evening I watched 47 Ronin starring Keanu Reeves. I thought I was in for an epic, magical adventure set in Feudal Japan, but it turned out to be a dramatic spin on a non-fiction even that apparently happened in actual Japanese history in regards to a group of Samurai. The action was decent, the writing sucked, and Keanu Reeves played his flat self of course. The film however was shot beautifully. And I was a big fan of the morphing witch; that was a good character. I could see myself watching that film again, but if you don't ever see it, don't worry about missing anything great or fantastic. Well, have a good night and a happy Halloween everyone. Oh, side note on that event; you should really look up the history for that day as it is very fascinating what it is all about.
What a weekend this turned out to be. Between all of the glitches that I had with technology I thought that I might have had a mental breakdown. Homework problems galore that took up hours of time of frustration, and then I had a phone malfunction on my work cell which created a whole set of problems. In a way it was a relaxing weekend, but not at the same time. I really should get all of my homework done during the week so that I can enjoy the weekends, although that would mean killing myself during the week which would not be fun. Well, for one of my grad school assignments the professor had us fiddling with html code which was a little daunting at first, but then I got the hang of it, although I still can't seem to embed a video from Youtube or create a proper hyperlink that works; it was rather frustrating. I have to say that it is difficult learning to write a new language, but it was rather nice to see the finished project. I would probably fiddle with it more for my own stuff if I had the time and energy for it. I cannot believe that there are essentially only 3 months of 2014 left. I was chatting with a client of mine and mentioned what I was doing in 2004, and he stated that he was an infant at the time; that made me feel quite aged. Always think that it will happen to adults and people older than you, but never yourself; it's kind of a weird feeling when it does happen. So I watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier this evening as a reward for completing most of my homework, and I have to say that I still enjoy it as much as I did in the theater, although I would prefer the I-MAX experience opposed to my television experience. Even though it is a film, it remains art, and something that the character of Steven Rogers stated that made me think, that freedom (not peace) has a risky price tag attached to it. I believe he is correct, and based on what globally is occurring in many countries I would also state that several people would agree with me as well. Something to consider, and these aren't really complex or even basic freedoms, they're the small ones, the ones people often take for granted. Government bureaucracy (red tape) restricts freedom, as do laws, rules, and regulations; another thing to consider when you go to the polls and vote for your government (state, local, and federal). Sometimes in a democracy freedom slips away so subtly that no one even notices. Kind of makes you wander if there is a type of "Hydra" like organization in governments across the world (not conspiracy like of course) but more so like the underlying philosophy; a small group of people or a singular individual believes that they know what's right for everyone, and will impose that will on everyone for their own good since they don't know any better. If you think about it there is historical precedence for it.
Inside Out trailer (the new Pixar film, and it looks quite promising)
August 2010 is when I began writing this blog, and that was over 4 years ago, and it is still going, not as strong but still going. I have reached over 1000 posts finally. My website has halted completely unfortunately, but there should be enough information to keep people busy on that for a while, until I figure out what to do with it eventually. It was lovely to have a relaxing weekend, although I haven't touched any writing in a while. I suppose right now my focus is really narrow on grad school and surviving it. Since I was able to complete my homework in a fashionable time, I was able to watch a movie tonight Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. The film stars Kenneth Branagh, Keira Knightley, Chris Pine, and Kevin Costner. Well, the title of my blog says it all. Ever since Harrison Ford did his last Jack Ryan film, neither Ben Affleck or Chris Pine have been able to break through with the character, and no one can compare to Alec Baldwin and The Hunt for the Red October; the best Jack Ryan film of all time, and possibly best sub film of all time (and yes that is a genre type). So it was weird hearing Keira Knightley without the British accent, but I guess she did alright with the character, even though there wasn't much for her to do. Kevin Costner's character had potential, but it was never fully developed. Kenneth Branagh was potentially a great villain, but became quite powerless early on I thought. Chris Pine....is well...came off as an action hero, not a thinker, or analyst as he so frequently reminded everyone. The story was boring, the plot mediocre, and the screenplay choppy. It wasn't a horrible film, but it wasn't good; it was merely tepid and received a similar response from film goers. Hopefully they'll either give some thought to the next screenplay and set of characters, or stop making films built around this character. Well the week awaits with all of its troubles and splendors. May everyone have a lovely time.
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit trailer
The Hobbit: Battle of the 5 Armies trailer (looks good, should be interesting to see the conclusion)
I think that last year I stated that October was the month from hell, well it looks like September has been that as well for this year. I'm not certain if it's the same exact reasons as it was last year, but it seems that way. Grad school full time and working full time still are not a really good idea, but I have no other alternative, unless I want to be stuck in an unpleasant field and place my entire life. Work has been especially stressful because we have been so short staffed, yet still remain quite busy, and you can see the toll that it is taking on the departmental staff. As obvious by lack of blogging posts and absence on Twitter, I haven't been writing much of anything except for work and academic language, and it isn't really that fun or interesting most of the time. This sucks truth be told, but I find that I have very little energy for such things after school and work stuff, which dominates my life right now. I just started watching this show (which is my mindless escape from reality) called Boss starring Kelsey Grammer as a Chicago Mayor Thomas Kane (is this a parallel to previous Mayor Tom Daley, not sure but I wouldn't be surprised). It is an intense political show which lacks the finesse of House of Cards, but I think it is a more accurate portrayal of real life politics that take place today in Chicago, which power, money, and muscle dominate rather than the virtues of democracy. Illinois politics are some of the most corrupt in the United States (it has a number of previous governors in jail for corruption charges) and it is all because of Chicago and the greater surrounding area around it. I would say that very little honest and decent politics come out of Chicago. I am only going to write this once and let it be; President Obama did come from Chicago, and after watching this show, it kind of gets you thinking. Kelsey Grammer's performance is amazing; wow! Watching him in his character is awesome! All of the secondary characters are good as well, but they all revolve around him and as the show progresses you begin to understand how this man (Mayor Kane) has the "keys to the kingdom." If you haven't seen it and enjoy well written and well acted political dramas, then you'll like this show. Speaking of political dramas, President Obama seems to have finally found some guts and has finally decided to do something about the apocalyptic mess in the Middle East. Granted it is far too little, too late; I highly doubt bombs will destroy anything right now and will just create more animosity and strife. I also find it interesting that he finds a voice of justice and determination when a non-governmental force is violent and kills civilians without pause, but when an organized government is doing it against it's own people, well apparently to the Obama administration that is an entirely different matter. I don't even know how I can empathize with the people who are suffering out there in Iraq, Syria, Iran and other places where the violence is spilling out to. After what seems like over three years of blogging about the growing issue, I don't know if there is anything left to say. I try to make people aware of what is happening out there, and the only thing I can say is there is a mid term election coming up; please vote for people who want to protect not only our liberties and freedoms, but also help protect those in the world who cannot protect themselves. It is our greater duty as the most free, wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world. For now at least.
Boss Season 1 Feature
Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
Into the Woods trailer (I hope Disney doesn't kill it)
Tonight I watched a film that I had never seen before today oddly enough considering the subject matter. Saving Private Ryan was I doubt I have to say it, a great success and feat for Steven Spielberg as filmmaker. Well written, well shot, well cast, and well produced it was quite something; I don't know if I've seen quite another war film like it. Tom Hanks proved once again that he is one of the finest actors of the current age, and only the best can be said of the supporting cast as well which was peppered with great talent. D-day in Europe, what happened at Normandy was an incredible gamble by Eisenhower and God only knows how it worked due to so many things going wrong that day, and the many thousands that perished like cannon fodder. If Hitler hadn't been stopped though, many more thousands would have died in Europe, Africa and perhaps farther westward and eastward. Was war with Hitler avoidable; no. The man had war on his mind from the very moment he became a political figure and nothing would have changed it; the man was still in denial that he was going to lose up until the moment he blew his brains out. Some men can never be reasoned with no matter how much one tries. Considering the difficulties that people are experiencing in Ukraine, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq I honestly don't grasp quite why nothing is being done since we've seen in our past what happens when evil goes unchecked and liberties are crushed. There always is a price to pay, but it doesn't amount to the price that willful ignorance costs....ask the German people about how that feels. To me it seems as if evil men and women have strong footholds around the globe like never before and the people who are free are doing nothing but remaining behind their safe havens and comfort. What to do about it? That I am uncertain, but something certainly needs to be done. The greatest measure of a person I think is what he or she is willing give up to help another person without any reward or benefit. I often think about that in my line of work in the mental health business, specifically in the realm of psychiatric crises. After watching this film, I also thought about what I would have been like if I had been on that beach. Bullets flying everywhere, dead bodies wrangling in the ebbing tides of the ocean with blood and body parts everywhere. Would I have made it? Would I have gotten shot in the head, lost a limb, or sat hidden cowering somewhere? I suppose every man would like to think that he has the guts to act like an action hero, but in reality where people die left and right in war, it's a whole different matter. I salute all of those brave men who pushed to take Normandy, and since then all of the men and women who have died in the pursuit of liberty and making a better world for those left behind.
Well, I have been writing nothing whatsoever which is quickly becoming the story of my life; the writer who doesn't write. Between grad school and working 50 hours a week, I'm finding it difficult to remain sane, so I end up doing a lot of nothing when I am not doing the aforementioned tasks. The good news is I have been doing grad school for over a year now, and I essentially have half a year remaining! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In three months it will be December! Wow. Time flies, and apparently the more stuff one does, the faster it goes by. Well, I hope that everyone is doing well enough. Please do remember the people in Syria, Ukraine, Iraq and Afghanistan who are suffering due to the conflict taking place in their home along with the countless others around the world who are suffering cruelly because of tyrannical rule (China, North Korea, Russia, etc.)
Saving Private Ryan trailer
Beach Landing scene from Saving Private Ryan
Dracula: Untold trailer (looks good, but not at the same time. Depends how they play everything out.)
I think that I have come to the conclusion that my life isn't going to be steady and consistent regarding much of anything until I have completed graduate school. So yeah, lot's happening on in the world, none of which seems to be very good or pleasant unfortunately. I almost feel like I'm beating a dead dog regarding these issues concerning Syria and Ukraine so I won't expound on them for now, but I will say what's continuing to be allowed and unchallenged is highly disconcerting. In other news. After an....extended weekend of camping I took an additional day off to chill and get caught up on stuff (including homework), and I watched Guardians of the Galaxy. I'm just going to say this right up front; it was trying to be Iron Man and it failed miserably. I don't know how many times I grimaced or rolled my eyes, but it was a lot. I didn't care really for any of the characters, which essentially were all annoying, and the villains really did seem to suck, though all of them had great potential. Chris Pratt played the exceptional immature, obnoxious, humorous, and frat like super hero/thief ever; I however do not care for that type of character, and it wasn't written well enough either; though I am certain frat boys and the like will idolize this "cool" ladies man wannabe with all of his awkward romantic moments. Dave Bautista as Drax was boring, as was Vin Diesel as Groot. Zoe Saldana as Gamora was very disappointing, and I'm beginning to think that she is a lot more talk than show when it comes to talent. Lee Pace was relatively good as the villain Ronan, but I think they could have done better with the story and the character. Bradley Cooper as Rocket reminded me a lot of his character in American Hustle; a lot of shouting, a lot of rude comments followed by condescending fight talk, with some pity "I feel bad for myself" talk. Between the characters there were some good laughs, but I think I laughed more during the previews than I did during the film. This film was visually quite stunning and beautiful. The action sequences sucked though. The theme for a lot of summer blockbuster films lately has been to simply overwhelm the audience with special effects action sequences rather than craft something dynamic, new and interesting. I believe I am getting comic book film burnout; there are just too many of them that it's beginning to get all mushed together. The 3-D was completely unimpressive. I am getting irritated with filmmakers and their use of 3-D; nothing is popping out, which is what I thought that the entire point of 3-D was, not just to add depth, but to make the audience feel like part of the film, as if they were in it and could experience it just like the characters. As I told my sister, it was very entertaining, but that's it. I don't discourage anyone to see it and I won't encourage anyone to see it. Anyone remember the show Continuum? Well I just finished season 3 tonight and it was amazing! Just when you think that you have seen it all and can't be surprised by anything, low and behold you're blown out of the water. Definitely recommend that show. Back to the grindstone tomorrow. May the Force be with us all.
Chris Pratt interview for Guardians of the Galaxy
Big Hero 6 trailer (this is what made me laugh before watching the aforementioned film. I looks quite hilarious.)
Apparently my last post according to Google was at the end of May. For me, life has become quite hectic and busy with grad school and work dominating more and more of my time and energy. Due to some staffing difficulties at my job I am being forced to take a good many on-call shifts where I have to work extra aside from my typical shifts (which have been increasingly draining). Then when I am not working I am partaking in grad school work, homework, projects, and lots of academic reading (which is extraordinarily boring). There is very little time for self-care and relaxing, or even having fun. Of course as a result of all of that, my writing has taken a beating (as have many other aspects of my life); I have not been doing any as I feel like I am in survival mode right now. The world certainly hasn't improved either since my last post, and has gotten worse with the crisis in Iraq growing, Syria still burns and rages on, Afghanistan is threatening to splinter, Ukraine is getting better but still is in the throes of danger from Russia, there is a child humanitarian crisis occurring in the U.S., and it seems as if the United States is loosing more and more allies with each passing month, or fracturing relationships with other nations. Even though I didn't live back during the 70's it really seems like history is repeating itself; doubt, fear, no faith in government, scandal plaguing the U.S. federal government, and despotism and radical terrorism on the rise. Essentially, things aren't looking up, not to mention that many of the economic systems of the world remain quite shaky. It would seem that the people of the world need a large boost of confidence and competence...or rather the leaders of the world's nations. Keeping in tune with the post's rather humdrum nature so far, I saw Transformers: Age of Extinction recently and was reminded that once again Michael Bay should move on to something else. Very loud, very computer animated, and very violent and destructive; not a very good combination when you have lousy screenwriting and poorly directed action sequences. The bright spots to the film were Kelsey Grammar (as an excellent villain) and Stanley Tucci as a world class scientist creating his own transformers. More bright spots to the film were no Shia LeBeouf or his character's parents, as well as some other obnoxious reoccurring characters. Mark Wahlberg is an excellent actor, but it wasn't his fault (or any other character) that the story and screenplay were atrocious (seriously, people get paid thousands and possibly millions of dollars to just write usually 135 pages of material and they can't even write something even a little bit decent). The film was incredibly deafening, and the action sequences were relentless. None of the action had any real taste or ingenuity behind it; there was no flow, just brute tactics, no dynamism. If all you want from a film is action, then you are watching the right film. For someone like me though that has seen high quality acting, high quality writing, and high quality directing and amazing action sequences (George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, and Bryan Singer) it is a very difficult film to watch. It's like when you've eaten really good chocolate or cheesecake, it's hard to go back and eat the not so great stuff. May sound snobbish, but it's the plain and simple truth. If you want a great action flick I would suggest X-Men: Days of Future Past. That film demonstrates two things: Bryan Singer is the only person who can create well made X-Men films, and the film also stands as a great example of an action film that has excellent acting, dynamic action, and good writing. To end on some good news, I have less than a year of school remaining before I graduate with my Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology! Very excited about that; now all that remains is surviving up to that point.
Transformers: Age of Extinction trailer
Hemlock Grove season 2 trailer (just started watching it, pretty intense so far)
So I got up bright and early this morning and went and saw X-Men: Days of Future Past. When I first heard of the film and saw the previews and trailers, I thought that it would be dreadful, but after my experience today, I discovered that was not the case. Bryan Singer directed the first X-Men film, and second, and should have directed the 3rd and spinoffs as well. Between him and the writer Simon Kinberg, they produced one of the most excellent Marvel based films I've seen. It is dark, well written, a fantastic cast along with fantastic acting, and well filmed. I really enjoyed the film. Honestly, there isn't enough good things that I could say about the film currently. Hugh Jackman, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellen, James McAvoy, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage, Ellen Page, Nicholas Hoult, Halle Berry, Shawn Ashmore, and Evan Peters (Quicksilver) all contributed to make a rather splendid film. Peter Dinklage played a great villain, although I occasionally thought of Tyrion Lannister when he spoke. The best part of the acting scenes involved Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, James McAvoy, and Hugh Jackman; very well written. I do have to say that I was impressed. The Sentinels from the future were impressive both visually, and also as villains in the film; they came across as deadly, vicious, and effectively intelligent being essentially the perfect villains. The action sequences were dynamic, impressive, well done, interesting, and done tastefully. The music by John Ottman was equally good, and it was delightful to hear some familiar themes that he composed for the 2nd X-Men film. He also did a fine job of editing; of bringing two concurrent timelines seamlessly together. As far as action.adventure, and comic book adaptations go, I highly suggest watching this film. It was very enjoyable, but also very dark (which is how I like them) but it really makes the journey that much better. All of the films are weaved together into this one, so that was a nice touch. I'm curious to see what the new film will be like. Oh, and don't forget to stay until the credits are over as there is an interesting foreshadowing of things from the past which will impact the future. I read an article in the Wall Street Journal today about the British Foreign Minister expressing his disappointment and disgust with China and Russia for vetoing a U.N. Security Council Resolution for indicting both the Assad regime and the rebel for war crimes at the Hague. He said something to the extent that it was a travesty of of justice that these two countries opposed this course of action. I'm sure that the rebels fighting Assad are concerning themselves with what the world considers war crimes, and the same for Assad. Both factions are fighting for survival, and human behavior has shown time and time again that when the chips are down and one has everything to lose, the rule book goes out the window, as does morality and ethics. You don't have time for such civilized constructs of reality when you are fighting against a ruthless foe that is determined to utterly, and ruthlessly destroy you. Syria has become an inexcusable, violent mess of which there is no good way to solve the civil war. Egypt is still uncertain, as is Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and also more recently Thailand. There is so much evil and hate in this world right now, no wonder films like Marvel comic book heroes are so popular; everyone wants to escape reality. God help us all.
In a way the month of May has gone by very fast, but at the same time it has gone by very slowly and thus long at the same time which of course doesn't make any sense but there you have it. I spoke to one of my co-workers today who had a rather fascinating story about someone she saw. So this kid had a friend of his with him, which he pulled a chair out for and pushed in, he was shouting at this friend and telling him what to do, and was freaking out when the friend was getting angry. This is my job, this is what me and my co-workers get to deal with potentially on a daily basis. Makes life so much more interesting. So I watched American Hustle tonight and about fifteen minutes into the film I was bored out of my mind and had thought 40 minutes had gone by. I contemplated stopping the film, but I pushed through, which isn't entirely true. I got on my tablet and played Magic: The Gathering card game and every now and then looked up to see what was going on. Almost two and a half hours long of nothing but shouting, searing, people getting hysterical, and a lot of dramatic nonsense about love, money, and power. All of those themes are great in a story and film, but honestly this film was written very poorly. Christian Bale's character was very interesting and could have been something much more awesome, but it was written terribly. The same thing with Amy Adams and her character; both together had the potential to be amazing, but fell horribly short. Don't honestly know if it came down to chemistry, acting, or truly the writing but that is what I am choosing. Bradley Cooper I wanted to strangle the entire film from the moment he walked on screen to the moment he stepped off. The best part of the entire film, which was a breath of fresh air was Jennifer Lawrence and her character, who was interesting and well written to boot. Why couldn't they have done that with all of the characters. Jeremy Renner's character was boring and ridiculous, but of course had potential. David O'Russell, who wrote and produced the film, has been hailed as a great for this film, which was also raved about by critics and audiences alike; God only knows what they saw in the film as I saw nothing. Don't recommend this film, and I doubt that I will ever watch it again. Not certain how many of you are keeping up with Game of Thrones but it seems that Lannisters are not the only ones keen on paying their debts. Season 4 is shaping up to be the best season yet, possibly because it may have the least amount of flagrant sexual content, but also the story is moving much more fluidly, not as much focus on pointless characters, and the stories are becoming more dynamic and interesting as are the story plots for what is going on. It is also shaping up to be the season where a good number of villains are dying, which is a great change for once. I think the show writers are finally coming up to the fifth book, so it should be interesting to see how George R.R. Martin finishes up the book series or rather contends with the fact that the writers are catching up to him. Well good night everyone.
American Hustle clip
Guardians of the Galaxy trailer 2 (Looks much better now)
Back in 1998 the seed of blockbuster comic book film adaptations of Marvel superheroes began with Wesley Snipes as Blade in the film Blade directed by Stephen Norrington. It was successful, and had three sequels but didn't really have the mass appeal that studios were looking to capitalize on. Enter the new millennium and in the year 2000 the first X-Men film was released directed by Bryan Singer with a fantastic cast and launching Hugh Jackman and Ian McKellen's acting careers to infinity and beyond. It was this film that truly ignited the summer bonanza of comic book film epics, two films and three spin-off films followed, with another one due out in summer 2014. Some of the Marvel adapted superheroes have paid off more than others; Iron Man, Spider-Man and the Avengers have been the most lucrative. The brand of Marvel has become so successful in adapting films, that the market is becoming saturated with films starring the comic book superheroes, and even super-villains. Not including the films that are still being developed, since 1998-2015 there will be at least 35 Marvel produced comic book film adaptations and it appears that it will only increase from that point on. I was 12 years old in 1998 and now I am 28 years old, and in the span of 16 short years there have been more film made from that same topic than anything else: Harry Potter, James Bond, Star Wars, Star Trek, Pirates of The Caribbean, Underworld, Jason Bourne,The Matrix, or Lord of the Rings. I haven't even mentioned DC comics, which includes all of the Superman films, the 3 different Batman strains (Tim Burton, Joel Schumacher, and Christopher Nolan ), and The Green Lantern. Than there are other comic book films like Spawn, Hellboy, and Dick Tracy as well. America's addiction to epic escapism is staggering, but I think it may be related to the peter pan syndrome; not wanting to grow up and become a responsible individual. It is rather interesting (although not altogether suprising) that the majority if not all of these comic book films are targeted towards men, young men, and boys all of whom in American culture on average have been having extraordinary difficulty maturing at young age. A perfect example of America's reflection of American men was a film recently released starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen called Neighbors. However, that is a discussion for psychological research. I personally believe that Americans will eventually tire of these films, at least I hope. When I was watching the Amazing Spider-Man 2 it seemed boring.....well, kind of like a ride that I've been on several times, and therefore has lost its thrill. Maybe that will happen, maybe not. As long as Hollywood makes money, they will continue to churn out comic book films like a factory. Here is a list of all the Marvel adapted film released since 1998 (I don't think I forgot anything): X-Men, X-Men: United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Spider-Man, Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 3, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, The Fantastic 4, The Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Catpain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Iron Man 3, The Avengers, The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Blade, Blade II, Blade: Trinity, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, The Punisher, Punisher: War Zone, Daredevil, Elektra, Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and Guardians of the Galaxy. Why don't you try rating them all from most to least favorite? Films being developed are sequels for several of the above mentioned films, a film on Ant-Man, the Sinister Six (Spider-Man villains), Dr. Strange (which could be great if done correctly), Deadpool, and several others I cannot recall currently. DC is also beefing up as well with A Batman vs. Superman film, the Justice League, and possibly rebooting the Green Lantern. I enjoy a lot of these films, but sometimes too much of a good thing can be....well, I'm sure you can figure it all out. I would personally rate The Avengers as the best Marvel produced film yet followed by Captain America: The Winter Soldier, then Iron Man, X-Men: United, The Amazing Spider-Man, and Thor. Who knows how well the new ones will be, or the films that follow afterwards. One thing is for certain though, these days everyone either wants a hero or wants to be a hero; in other words people want to be someone unreasonably exceptional, or be saved by someone unreasonably exceptional (it's all tied to the difficulty America is having with stagnant social mobility). Have a good night everyone.