Friday, April 29, 2016

“The Revenant”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   What I can say about Leonardo DiCaprio that hasn't already been said? He has been nominated for and won nearly every award there is…because he is among the best at what he does. This film is new ground for him as it is his first role where the bulk of it is done without speaking. The fact that Leo has won Best Actor for a role he hardly spoke in, speaks volumes about his ability to convey emotion and connect with the audience with his craft.

   I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Tom Hardy is an excellent actor that always delivers great performance. This holds true in this film as Hardy is excellent as John Fitzgerald, a trapper that kills the son of Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) and is generally a guy hardened by a hard life…that gets harder with each bad decision he makes.

The Plot: 
   Set in the 1800’s, the American frontier is a dangerous place to be. Beset by Native Americans, the harsh terrain, and wild animals, being a trapper is not a profession for the weak.

   Hugh Glass (DiCaprio) is certainly not weak and is the expert guide for an expedition to bring furs back for trade. Having raised his half Native American son by himself after his wife is killed, Glass is no stranger to hardship and loss.

   Things take a turn for the worst when, after being attacked by Arikara warriors and on the run, Glass is mauled by a bear. Thinking he will not survive the trip home Captain Andrew Henry (Domhall Gleeson…from one of my all-time favorite films) asks for volunteers to stay with Glass and give him a proper burial after he passes. 

   Fitzgerald is one of those willing to stay but during the course of the agreed upon task, Fitzgerald decides to speed the process up for Glass, but is interrupted by his son Hawk. In the ensuing argument….Hawk is killed, and what happens next can only be described as one of the most incredible stories ever told.

The Verdict: 

   From the very beginning this film is incredible as it sets a tone of unrelenting danger and never ceases the assault.

   Even though the film takes some rather large liberties as it departs from the facts of the true events it is based on, the story is still an incredible one and the delivery by the cast coupled with the cinematography and special effects kept me glued to the screen.  

   Everyone talks about the bear scene, and with good reason. I will just say that I’m a person that can stomach a lot of gore, but the realness of the scene and the knowledge I have about what a bear can really do to a person, had me cringing at the thought that Hugh Glass really endured such a thing. 

   I was very impressed with the decision to use First Nation people in this film. Too many times it seems ethnic people are passed over for roles depicting their ethnicity. Kudos to Duane Howard and Melaw Nakehk’o on their introduction to film and delivering great performances. 

   This film deserved all the awards and accolades it has gotten…and will now get one more as it was certainly my cup of tea, easily enduring four out of five cinnamon sticks.

Rating 4/ 5

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Do We Have a Parasite Problem…?

   It’s a fair question to ask since the subject almost never comes up when going to the doctor to deal with illness. Unless you have recently traveled to a country flagged as one of those which people most often return from with parasites, you will likely be diagnosed with something other than a parasite…and get  all the drugs for treatment associated with that diagnosis.

   Let me be clear before I continue….this post is not a rant against doctors, or even the medical machine in general, but more of me just opening your eyes to something you may be sleeping on which might be causing you a world of health problems.

   I usually provide some links at the bottom of my posts that are relevant to the topic being discussed, and I implore you to look at them because the information could very well be the difference between misery and a healthy life.

   Many of the conditions people routinely suffer from (joint pain, chronic fatigue, Lupus, etc) could be the result of parasite infestation as it is estimated that at least 50% of the world’s population is infested with at least one parasite. It get’s worse though:

“ A number of doctors who now believe that parasites are implicated in a number of the diseases which plague modern society, such as cancer, AIDS and Crohn's disease. A recent study of over 400 chronic fatigue immune deficiency syndrome (CFIDS) patients in New York revealed that an incredible 93 per cent had some form of parasitic infestation (J Nutritional Med, 1990; 1: 27-31).”

   If these statistics are to be believed, then why are doctors not diagnosing parasites more often? Well…the medical establishment has treatment protocols doctors must follow for diagnoses based on symptoms and conclusive (and sometimes inconclusive) results. It’s much like when my child once had ringworm and the doctor had to prescribe a medication that could cause liver damage…a potentially fatal situation, for a problem that was not. 

   There are protocols for parasite diagnosis, but getting the diagnosis from the beginning is were they drop the ball since the majority of doctors do not consider searching for parasites as a first option in treatment. Even if the medical machine’s protocols called for more attention to this, not only do most doctors have no experience or training in parasitology, but symptoms for parasite infestation mimic symptoms for a plethora of other diseases. A misdiagnosis could lead to powerful drug prescriptions that further exacerbate the parasitic infestation. As if the parasite isn’t doing enough to ruin your health, you then have to contend with medication that you don’t need, with side effects you need even less.

   Getting a parasite is as easy as breathing. Yes…there are airborne parasites! You can also get them from the food you eat, water you drink, pets, sexual practices, etc…the list is extensive. Let’s face it, your daily routine is probably opening you up to many opportunities for infestation, so prevention is going to be hard (but not impossible). Treatment is another story though.

   If you rely on the medical establishment to treat your parasite problem, you will have to endure toxic drugs (assuming you even get to that point) that are likely to harm you as much as the parasites. I personally prefer a more natural approach to this very natural problem. 

   Don’t sleep on this…and cleanse your body of parasites immediately, and periodically.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

“Hateful 8”

   I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   As far as I’m concerned, this was an all-star cast.

   There shouldn’t be anything I can say about Sam Jackson that has not already been said. He is a great actor that brings his special brand of performance to all the roles he takes.

   I’ve been a fan of Kurt Russell for awhile now and he plays an excellent role in this film, setting the tone of the movie early. Jennifer Jason Leigh, being attached to him (literally) only elevated her character even though the role did not require much of her (imo).

   Walter Goggins is just one of those actors that isn’t really a headliner, but is excellent in whatever role he is playing. I think that is changing for him though cause with each role, he is building an impressive resume and this role certainly added to that.

   Michael Madsen can be counted on to do what he does, and that is deliver great supporting roles. Tim Roth is one of those wild-card actors that is very versatile and can nail any role you put him in. He nails it in this film…as expected.

The Plot: 

   Set somewhere soon after the end of the Civil War, a stagecoach is crossing the winter struck landscape of Wyoming carrying infamous bounty hunter John Ruth (Russell) and his captive Daisy Domergue (Lee). Trying to stay ahead of an impending blizzard, the coach’s destination is the small town of Red Rock where Domergue will face justice for her crimes.

   During their travel they happen upon another infamous bounty hunter, Major Marquis Warren (Jackson) in need of transportation before the coming blizzard arrives. Grudgingly assisted, it isn’t long before the coach happens upon a third soul in need of refuge, Chris Mannix, claiming to be the new sheriff of Red Rock…should he arrive.

   With the storm bearing down on them, they cannot outrun it and must take refuge at a haberdashery along the way, owned by a woman named Minnie.

   Upon arriving they are greeted by a host of characters, none of which are what was expected, but all of which have a secret that could mean the death of them all. What follows is a classic tale of mystery, suspense and violence delivered as only Quentin Tarantino can.

The Verdict: 

   I consider myself a fan of Tarantino films since his big break through with Pulp Fiction. I have come to expect his particular brand of storytelling and this film did not disappoint in that regard.

   That said, I have found the trend of his most recent films set in and about the Civil War (or as the South calls it, War of Northern Aggression) era to be somewhat tired at this point. I fully understand the dichotomy of the era and thus the liberal use of the word n****r, but it is starting to feel like trend by Tarantino that is limiting his creativity and appeal. Tarantino can still draw the talent to his projects as evidenced here by what I have called an all-star cast, and they deliver as all-stars should. 

 Of course the film is not without it’s over-the-top gory moments, but like I have already said, It’s what you expect when you watch a Tarantino film. 

   I wanted to like this film more than I did, but for some reason, it just didn’t move me as I expected to be moved given the weight of the cast and director. It was almost like watching an all-star NBA game where nobody really does any fancy moves, but you appreciate their interaction with each other. Coming away with that feeling can only soak two and a half cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Rating 2.5/ 5

Monday, March 28, 2016

FDA Approved

   I’m shocked that in this age of information that is readily available and streaming out of every orifice, the words “FDA approved” actually still means something to anyone. What sort of security or peace of mind could those words possibly convey in light of the history of the FDA and the approvals they have issued?

   I was recently at an event about Lupus, for support, and as I sat and absorbed the information given by many doctors about the different aspects of this disease, one of them touted FDA approval for some new drugs. Yes…”touted,” as in it really means something that the FDA will approve the use of a drug.

   Anyone reading this and thinking in agreement with that doctor, let me turn your attention to the plethora of commercials (I know you’ve seen them) from law offices asking if you or a loved one has suffered or died from (insert drug here). You know the ones I’m talking about. Well…each and every single one of those drugs was approved by the FDA!

   I have been wise to the corporate machine (yes, even the FDA is part of the machine) for awhile now. “Politics in Healing” was an eye opener for me after my mom passed away in 2000 and was my first introduction to the medical world as it really is, and not how I had liked it to be. I was neck deep in the propaganda fed to us by the media and had built a world view synonymous with the picture painted for me.

   Fortunately for me I was able to leave the Matrix and was strong enough to handle the transition. Many are all too happy to remain ignorant and thus do so willfully. For example, if I told you over 100,000 people die from prescription medication each year, would you believe me, or continue to trust the approval of the FDA? There are many sources of this information available but if you’re a devout believer in the FDA, then believe them now (probably the closest they’ll ever get to telling the truth) as they post some numbers on their own site. 

   I have no doubt the numbers they give are scaled down because I know their history and understand their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Yes…I said “relationship.” See, when it’s a common practice for big time execs to retire from their company and go to work for the FDA (and vise-versa), what you have is a working relationship that really doesn’t work in the best interest of the people.

“Relationships between the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry have led to a “revolving door,” in which pharmaceutical executives go to work for the FDA, making regulatory decisions on matters affecting their industry and sometimes even their own former companies. When their time at the FDA is over, they go back to higher-paying jobs in the industry.” - The FDA’s Cozy Little Relationship

   The words “FDA approved” have absolutely no meaning for me beyond the fact that whatever I’m reading those words on has gone through their “process” of approval. It doesn’t mean the product is safe, I don’t feel a sense of bolstered comfort, and it doesn’t sway me to use that product over one that that says it’s claims have not been evaluated by the FDA.

   That’s just me though.

   In the end, I would encourage everyone to do their own due diligence on the subject and make whatever decision they feel is right for them…because I can assure you someone else is doing it for you in your observational absence. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

“Straight Outta Compton”

  I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   I have to say that for a cast that was largely new to the acting world, these young men did a spectacular job bringing to life the various personalities that comprised the legendary rap group NWA.

   O’Shea Jackson Jr. is a virtual clone of his father Ice-Cube. It’s been said he put years of work into portraying his father and the time was not wasted.

   Corey Hawkins brought the Hip-Hop media mogul Dr. Dre to life with a great performance that personifies the various struggles and experiences that have molded him into the man he is today.

   Jason Mitchell brought Eazy-E to the big screen and brought him back to life for the precious minutes he was on the silver screen.

   There isn’t much I can say about Paul Giamatti that hasn’t already been said by anyone paying close attention to this great actor. He did a spectacular job portraying Jerry Heller.

The Plot: 
   In the mid 1980’s five young men (six really, but Arabian Prince went his own way very early) came together with aspirations of making music to make some money. They sought to express, through rap, their life experiences and the world they lived in daily.

   After gaining some local success and notoriety, they hooked up with Jerry Heller in hopes of expanding their influence and building on the success they had thus far.

   Not only did they build on their local success, they became one of the biggest names in rap music performing all over the country, bringing their controversial lyrics to sold out venues. They were so influential and inflammatory that the FBI sent them a letter of “cease and desist.”

   Amid all the success and fame, inner turmoil takes root and what follows is a story that will have you glued to the screen as you remind yourself you are watching a re-enactment of true events…making what you see all the more astonishing.

The Verdict: 
   I grew up in the 80’s and 90’s and remember NWA very well as an influential force upon my life as their music helped shape me in my youth. There is no doubt this film takes some liberties with the storytelling and likely leaves a large part of their actual history out. In fact…I’m certain of it.

   This film reminds us of the Rodney King case and sadly shows us that thirty years later the police are still conducting themselves in a way that has a large portion of the country questioning if they really are the good guys.

   Of course there is no question that Suge Knight is not a good guy, but the portrayal of him by R. Marcos Taylor is outstanding and memorable. He was truly a menacing and deranged presence.

 Speaking of presence…there was one that was missing. Although Aldis Hodge portrayed MC Ren in the film, I feel like he was never really there, primarily because the film excludes the gravity of his contribution to the success of NWA, especially in the years after Ice-Cube left. In all honesty, Ren was my favorite of the group and always had a memorable part in any song he was in and I loved his solo stuff (including his endeavors with CPO).

   I was happy to see they at least included The D.O.C in the film, but with the snubbing of Ren, this film went from flavoring my tea with four cinnamon sticks….to settling for three and a half, out of five.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Friday, February 26, 2016

Privacy or Security…?

   Once again life is putting forth a serious question we all need to ponder as the answer will shape the future of our lives. The FBI has demanded Apple decrypt an iPhone belonging to one of the attackers involved in the San Bernardino assault. Apple has refused…so now the question is put before us all once again. Do we value our privacy over our security…?

   On one side of this, we are told that breaking into the phone could yield information that may prevent more acts of terrorism. Nobody can really call this a lie because it’s absolutely plausible that the phone is teeming with information that could help take out the bad guys. Surely the privacy of Syed Rizwan Farook (owner of the phone) is of no concern, since he was one of the bad guys. So how can the FBI’s request really be an issue of contention for Apple…?

   Well…on the other side of this Apple has said that to break into this one phone means that they would have to write script that breaks into all iPhones…and once written and released (to the FBI presumably) everyone that owns an iPhone will no longer have any privacy with it. I’m not a programmer of any kind so can’t speak to the truth of their statement. All I know is that’s what they are saying and that they are refusing to comply with a court order to decrypt the phone on that basis.

   There are a few things that jump out at me about all of this…on both sides of the issue.

   I have an iPhone (don’t ask which version, just know people call it an antique) but I don’t keep it updated and don’t have the issues I’ve heard others speak about such as automatic updating…that they sometimes do not want, and often cannot stop. It seems to me that the phones are already compromised…somewhat. 

   I also have trust issues when it comes to the government. I know such sentiments are considered dangerous in these troubled times, but what really makes these times so troubling is that more people don’t have the same issue I do trusting those in charge. The government is made up of people just like you and I that have the same shortcomings shared by the entire human race. How anyone can elevate them up to be beyond reproach affording them complete trust is beyond my understanding.

   Ultimately it comes down to what you value more…your privacy or your security.

   Unlocking an iPhone today could be another step toward the end of privacy tomorrow. Are we that scared of tomorrow that we will opt to do that…? We all should understand by now that fear can be used to compel action. How much of your rights you give up is dependent upon how terrified you are those rights are getting in the way of your security.

   Does anyone really want to live in a world like the one depicted on that new show “Colony?” Are we really so oblivious that we can’t see each freedom and right given up moves us one step closer to such a world…? While we sit here refusing to hold those tasked with administering order and safety accountable, do we really want to give them more power that they can abuse if they so wish to…?

   Are the bad guys really that good…or is our government really that bad…? I have to ask because we all know Big Brother is already watching, but yet still doesn’t seem to see anything. There are cameras everywhere now….literally. On every corner, on the side of buildings, above the doorways of businesses, on every traffic light…there’s a camera. We are under constant surveillance and still…things happen. 

   The whistle has been blown already about our government’s violation of our privacy…and we want to hang the blower for exposing them instead of asking why, with all of this, do they want more…? When will it be enough to stop the bad guys….?

   Do we have to give up all of our privacy to truly be secure….? If that is the case, then the bad guys aren’t the problem, we are…and the government isn’t the solution, we are.

Marinate on that.

Saturday, January 30, 2016


  I am an ardent fan of the cinematic arts. Although I have certain genre preferences, I don’t let that stifle my curiosity and close myself to different flavors of entertainment. That said...I am a huge fan of science fiction, super hero and action movies! Please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast

   Tom Hardy is an excellent actor that has done a lot of films I really like….and always delivers a great performance regardless of the film. In this film, he has the unique opportunity to portray the notorious Kray twins in their rise and fall as one of London’s prominent organized crime presence in the 1950’s and 60’s.

   Hardy’s performance clearly conveyed the personality differences between the twins and contrasted himself with ease as there was never any doubt which person he was playing…many times without even having to utter a word.

The Plot: 
   This is a biopic film about Reginald and Ronald Kray as told from the point of view of Reggie’s wife, Frances Shea. It doesn’t start with their childhood (which was a good call) and instead picks  up where Frances is introduced into Reggie’s life.

   At this point the criminal endeavors of the Krays are well underway while we get to sample the personality of Reggie before being treated to the insanity of his brother Ronnie.

   The London crime scene has many players on the field and the Krays navigate the terrain, dealing with rival gangs until their main competitors are taken off the board by London’s finest.

   With their main competition mostly muted, the door swings wide open for them to increase their influence both as local celebrities and politically as they dig their tendrils into several business through a combination of offers and intimidation.

   What follows is a telling of their story as only Tom Hardy can deliver, peppered with drama, comedy….and a bit of blood.

The Verdict: 

   I watch a lot of BBC television and even I had to really concentrate at times to understand the nuance of the dialog, which is a big part of the film.

   Hardy is great and I very much enjoyed his roles, although he may have played Ronnie a bit over-the-top, it was still a very entertaining performance.

   If I had to judge the accuracy of the film, I’d say it fell short in several places, especially if the Wiki accounting of the Krays life is to be believed. Other than that, I found the pace and tone of the film to be somewhat inconsistent at times and was totally taken back by the decision of Jack "the Hat" McVitie (Sam Spruell) at the end….given what had been going on all movie long between him and Reggie Kray…just made no sense to me.

   Overall it was a fun film to watch, mainly due to the delivery of Hardy, but could have been better leaving out some of the musical scores and deciding on a specific tone.

Rating 3.5/5