Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Proud, The Stubborn, and The Foolish.

   I am wrong.

   Those are three simple words that have some people so terrorized that they will not say them for any reason. All the money in the world, all the gold in China, all the eggs in the basket just can’t get some people to make such a simple admission…and experience growth from the wisdom of such knowledge.

   Pride isn’t always bad (or so we think), but it certainly can have it’s bad side. You might hear people say they aren’t too proud to beg, borrow, or steal for what they want. Strangely enough some of those same people would be too proud to make the simple admission that they are wrong in their position or point. 

   In this we see the prideful practice of being stubborn. I very much try to exercise good judgment when it comes to pride, but stubbornness is a bit more of a struggle for me. I have a hard time letting things go, especially when I know I’m right. But knowing you’re right doesn’t automatically mean the other side will acknowledge they are wrong…and there is a great explanation for that when we examine what it means to be stubborn:

adjective: stubborn
1 having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.

   The part of the definition that really raises my eyebrow is “especially in spite of good arguments or reasons”….see, that’s the part where you are right, but your opposition just doesn’t care.

   Recently I have been spending my time in pointless debates about trivial stuff. I have found that there are those that love to engage in such pursuits, but have no talent for it because they are so prideful and stubborn. This combination leads to things being said that are just absolutely ridiculous. Enter the foolish.

   See….when one becomes unreasonable and irrational, because they are too proud to admit, and too stubborn to relent, they have no other recourse but to become downright foolish. It really makes no sense to me…but as I have often said so many times on this blog, humanity never ceases to amaze me (a somewhat disturbing notion when I really think about it).

   I titled this post as if I were going to talk about three separate categories of people. The truth is people are going to be who they are and won’t stop being human, until they are not. There will always be those that are too prideful to realize that their stubbornness is making a fool out of them.

   I suppose with this knowledge, all I can do is contemplate the merits of dealing with such people. I mean…if you take the time to argue with a fool, who watching can really tell which one is which…?

Friday, July 31, 2015

“Taken 3”

   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’m a Liam Neeson fan…for sure. Like him in just about everything he does, but that said, he is limited to whatever script you put in front of him. I wish I could say his performance here was one of the best ever, but after the first two films, there is only so much I can put on Neeson. He certainly played his character well, it’s just that the range of the character was simply out of is control.

   Forrest Whitaker as been one of the greats for a long time now. In his role here as the main law enforcement official leading the hunt for Neeson, there is little room for development as this film is silly not that type of movie. I thunk he achieved what the filmmakers wanted to get across about his character….mainly that he was smarter than your average investigator and kept Neeson on his toes, but at the end of the day the performance was only as good as the script would allow.

   Famke Janssen and Dougray Scott had little impact on me in terms of their portrayal of their charatcers, and again…it had everything to do with the script (mostly). Scott seemed sinister to me from the beginning and so when he was revealed, it was not the revelation the film makers probably had in mind…and much of that was Scott (and the script little bit).

The Plot: 
   Bryan Mills is back again as it seems people just don’t get that he is not a guy to be messed with. This time he gets framed for a murder and has to go on the run from the very capable Franck Dotzler (Whitaker) while trying to solve the mystery of who the real murder is…and why.

   Franck Dotzler is tasked with bringing in Mills and understands that such a task is daunting given what he learns about Mills during his investigation (which is to say when you can find very little information on your suspect, he must be a badass).

   As Mills investigates, he begins to piece together the intricate web that has been weaved to snare him…and of course this means that bis family is one again in danger, and only he can adequately protect them by getting to the bad guys before they get to his family.

   What follows is a clash of close calls, unbelievable stunts, and classic, but predictable, one-liners that are absolutely expected, but not too appreciated.

The Verdict: 

   I really wanted to like this film more than I actually did. I even tried real hard to like it as much as the previous films, but there was just too much missing from it to leave that kind of impression.

   I think the script was lazy and left the film open to be too predictable with a character that was built on being anything but. There was a lot of action (more on that later) and not enough substance to that action to really carry any weight in the film.

   When you are doing a third film starring Neeson, the bar has to be raised and the film should strive to be better than the previous ones. When I see cars getting wrecked in one scene, then that same car not having a scratch in the very next frame…something is off…someone was lazy. When this happens over and over again (specifically when a Porsche slams into the landing gear of a jet)…it becomes too noticeable to ignore, and brings the quality of the film down.

   The fight scenes and use of combat knowledge was a continuance of what has already been shown, instead of an enhancement. I think the balI was dropped here on an opportunity to really make a film that stood out instead if a film that was just watchable because Neeson is doing what Neeson does. Films like this are usually my cup of tea, but this film had a sour taste to it and only dipped two and a half cinnamon sticks in my cup.

   If they have any plans on doing “Taken 4” all I can say is….”Good luck.”

Rating 2.5 / 5

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An Innocent Observation


    So.…there I was having some Sunday brunch and enjoying good company when I took a moment to take in my surroundings. I’m usually a very observant person, often fancying myself as an amateur sleuth, in the vein of Sherlock Holmes or Batman. I think paying attention to details is a great way to gather information…or, in this case, entertainment.

   Firstly there was the couple sitting to the side and across from my table. I felt for the woman as she had no idea her date wasn’t really into her and would likely rather be in a train wreck than have to sit there through dessert. As clear as his body language was to me, was as oblivious she was to the actual situation. So bubbly and full of excitement, if she were sitting down to a test…she would lose points for spelling her own name wrong. I had no interest in watching this drama unfold…and it wouldn’t get to the good part anyway until long after the meal was over and they were on their way.

   Next was the quartet…just entering the scene and being seated in the far corner. A man with three women. Call it the Curious George in me…but in what situation does one man go out with three women (three gorgeous women) and act like he is special to all of them? Maybe I watch too much television or just think wrongly, but none of them struck me as associating for business (clandestine or otherwise) and all of them struck me as happy. Perhaps it was just the guy in me to think what I was thinking…after all, they could have all been related and he was just the gentlemanly type.

   Anyway…after seating “his” women down, he went to pull out his own chair and couldn’t because a stroller was blocking the way. He quietly asked the man seated at the table next to him to move it…which brings me to my final and most perplexingly entertaining observation of that day.

   As the man moved the stroller to the other side of his own table, I took an inventory of the cast seated with him and could not identify anyone at the table in need of a stroller. I say “in need” because generally a stroller is used for someone of such an early age that they have not yet mastered the art of putting one foot in front of the other…or have not mastered it to such a degree as to be practical for traveling with others well versed in the technique.

      Here again was an opportunity to use my deductive reasoning…and I did. I settled on the youngest member of the party, a boy around the age of five or six. Perhaps I was too generous and he was really four…but I think his age was far less important than his actual ability. I say “ability” because the way this boy was jumping around with such precision and complexity, displaying agility bordering on superhuman…I dubbed him “Young Peter Parker.”

   As I watched this display worthy of Barnum and Bailey’s attention, I just could not bring myself to believe that the stroller was actually for him. What reasonable person would put Spider-Man in a stroller?

      When they concluded their meal, I was very eager to have my suspicions confirmed (even though there was no other deduction to be made) and felt elation and awe at seeing the father ask Young Peter Parker to take his seat…in the stroller. Umm…really? After he sat down and the stroller began moving backwards and the whining began about wanting to go forward, I was pretty sure I knew the dynamics involved (add another spoiled child to the world). I mean…if he really wanted to go forward he could have easily executed a triple front somersault landing without so much as a sound on his way to web up some imagined bad guy.

   I’ve heard of people keeping children in strollers too long….but when your child is more agile and coordinated than you are, perhaps it’s time to make him walk…even when that is a downgrade from what he normally does. Just saying…

Monday, June 29, 2015

“The Homesman”

   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 just knew there was going to be great performances because both Jones and Swank can deliver very realistic and believable characters. That said, you might expect passable performances from the rest of the cast…especially the lesser known ones, but everyone else was excellent in the delivery of their characters.  
   Tommy Lee Jones is simply one of the best at what he does and immediately stole the film for me. His onscreen persona is so captivating and grounded that I couldn’t help but get caught up and mesmerized by the life he brought to the story.

   I have to give Hilary Swank her due here. It’s tough to play opposite Jones and not get totally drowned out, but she managed to do just that. It helped that she had ample screen time before Jones was even introduced to set the stage for her character and cement that persona in my mind so that when she and Jones started sharing the screen, she was complimentary to his performance.

The Plot: 
   Mary Bee Cuddy (Swank) is an independent-minded woman on the frontier making a life for herself. She is tough, smart, and resourceful…none of which has helped her to find marriage by age 31.

   George Briggs is a drifter that has made questionable decisions due to the very plain and self-serving view with which he lives his life.

   When three women are driven insane by the various pressures and struggle of frontier life, they must be transported across the country to be cared for properly since their husbands lack the resources, patience, and desire to care for them. 
   Cuddy volunteers to transport the women from a mixture of kindness and the reality that her life as she’s living it is quickly dead-ending on her. While preparing for her trip, which is perilous at best, due to the fact that she is largely inexperienced in such missions and she is a woman, she happens upon Briggs who is in desperate need of her help.

   Cuddy helps Briggs on the promise that he, in turn, will accompany her on her transport mission, using his applicable skills to assure their success.  
   What follows is an adventure that details just how hard the old west really was, as experienced through the interaction between Cuddy and Briggs, and the dangerous situations they must contend with, not only from their environment…but the from the very people they are trying to help.

The Verdict: 
   This film surprised me on many levels. As much as Jones and Swank carried it, there is no denying that, in some respects, the insane women were also the stars of the film. Without really ever saying a word, Grace Gummer, Miranda Otto, and Sonja Richter delivered pivotal performances that brought the story together.

   I was also surprised by the rawness of some of the scenes that literally had me writhing in my seat, wanting to look away, but unable to. That said, it was the type of “disturbing” that fit perfectly within the setting of the story and so was much more acceptable as it served to drive home a profound point about life on the frontier. 
   Of course, it is always a pleasure to see a veteran actor like John Lithgow and the enigmatic James Spader.…both playing minor supporting roles, but still delivering great performances.

   This film left me with a sense that the “point of it all” was somehow lost in translation…but reflecting back on it, the “point of it all” wasn’t about the entirety of the film, but spoke more to the struggles of each individual to cope with lives that have largely gotten the best of them, leaving mostly the worst of them on display. I drank deeply on this one and thoroughly soaked three and a half cinnamon sticks, in my cup of tea.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beginning at the End

   Life is replete with beginnings and endings and we must accept the truth of the fact that life is a series of constant changes…..some great, others…not so much. I have spoken many times (well….maybe just a few) about relationships, dating, and the chasm that seems to separate men from understanding women. Very rarely have I concentrated on the less pleasant aspect of a couple’s experience….separation (or divorce for those that are married).

   I knew a few friends growing up that had to deal with parents no longer willing to stay together, and I know that it is very hard for a child. Heck…it’s hard for the parents as well. As tough as it is and can be, the fact remains that such an ending is a beginning to something else…as most everything else in life.

   Life is often romanticized with little regard given to the reality of it. Children (those not touched by realities such as the one mentioned above) grow up with this idea that adulthood will lead to getting married, having children (and possibly a pet), and living in a big house with a picket fence. That sounds nice….but there are so many variables in that pristine picture that it’s almost not worth painting it in the first place.

   Not everyone can find that perfect person or cultivate the ultimate relationship with a soul mate…and must plod along through life making mistakes and learning from them, in a series of beginnings and endings. The idea that an ending is a bad thing is entirely dependent on what exactly is ending.

   There is a societal view that the ending of a relationship is a bad thing, but try telling that to a person that knew nothing but happiness when such an event occurred. It’s the same with divorce (and rightly so most of the time) but again, try passing that off as truth to someone grateful to be able to start again, free of the burden of a realized mistake.

   Divorce seems to carry a stigma of negativity that overshadows the reality of it’s occurrence. Society seems to be slow in accepting that this, like any other reality of life, will never go away and will always be a part of our humanity. The focus is always on the ending…and hardly ever on the beginning that ending creates.

Now there is a progressive approach to the subject with the creation of a site (Divoree) that actually promotes the idea that if it has to be done, then it should be done in a way is more efficient and cost effective. A novel idea…completely in step with the forward growth society has recently embraced.

   Also…it’s worth mentioning that people often find themselves in situations that are very detrimental to them, either from physical or mental abuse, with no financial recourse to free themselves to continue their growth. 

   With so many people touched by this unpleasant reality….why not support someone else in realizing that you can begin…at the end? 

People helping people is a good thing.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

“The Loft” 

   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: 

   It’s tough for me to watch Karl Urban now and not think about Doctor McCoy (unless his face is hidden ala Dredd). Even with that though, he continues to be very entertaining to watch and remains a great actor.
   I haven’t seen James Marsden since his cameo as Cyclops in the last X-Men film. I have always found him to be a capable actor, even though for me, his association now seems to always be Cyclops. Surprisingly though, his performance here was good enough to take my mind away from all that, as I laughed at the weakness of his character.

   Wentworth Mller has always been entertaining to me since Prison Break…and I thoroughly enjoy him now as Captain Cold on the Flash television series. The delivery of his role here is very good and he brings more to the film than anyone else.

The Plot: 
   Vincent Stevens (Urban) is an architect on the rise and has an idea he shares with his four best friends. The five decide on sharing a loft as a place they can bring other women to cheat on their wives.

   Chris Vanowen (Marsden) is reluctant at first but later finds himself seduced into using the loft. Unfortunately, with his marriage teetering on the edge, he lets his emotions get the best of him and falls in love with a situation that is purely sexual for the bother person.

   Luke Seacord (Miller) is the most loyal to his wife and never uses the loft for the nefarious purpose the other four do, even though he accepts a key and promises his silence about the secrets of everyone else.

   When Luke goes to loft one morning and finds the body of woman chained to the bed, he calls the other four and kicks of a mystery that takes more turns than a roller coaster and has more twists than a Twizzler.

   What follows is the unraveling of secrets within secrets held together by lies leading ultimately to revenge!

The Verdict: 

   The films starts off near the end and backtracks to tell the complete story of how we get to the end. It’s not a new formula, but given the number of characters in the movie and the secrets they have, it was the best way to tell this story.

   I enjoyed the chemistry between the five friends and the different dynamic each wife brings to the film through their unique relationships with their husbands. I was drawn into everyone’s personality and was pleased how they played out as the plot and their specific stories were revealed.

   I’m usually pretty good at figuring out who the villain is in a mystery, but another part of this process is figuring out the motive…and this is where the film gives you extra helpings of, motive…for everyone.

   In the end, this film was entertaining enough to watch, but not good enough to watch again. The acting was good and the story was interesting, but the ending was very poor…especially considering the build up to reveal the truth. That said, this film was only able to hide two and a half cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Rating 2.5 / 5