Wednesday, September 30, 2015

“Time Lapse” 

   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! Even though this film falls within the sci-fi genre, please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   Danielle Panabaker (Callie) was the only person I recognized in the film as having established herself outside of it (and that’s only because I watch the Flash) and this revelation had me thinking the film would be lackluster. I am glad to report that I very much enjoyed her role and she delivered her character quite well.

   Matt O’Leary (Finn) also played his role well and kept me intrigued as the boyfriend having relationship issues, not only with his girlfriend, but with his roommate/ friend as the lines began to blur about who was the alpha male in the house.

   George Finn (Jasper) added that element of unpredictability (ironic since it’s a film about immutable events in time) to the film as his character slowly descends down the path of the unstable…bordering on madness. Finn delivers this very well and was the main catalyst that kept my attention on the screen.

The Plot: 
   Three roommates that are also landlords of an apartment complex find a very special camera in the apartment of one of their tenants when he goes missing. Careful observation of the camera reveals that it takes pictures of the future.…specifically 24 hours ahead (it is revealed later that it can be set to take pictures further in the future, but our trio never discover how to operate it).

   After making this discovery, the trio decide to use the pictures to change their current circumstances by holding up photos for the camera to take, with specific instructions for their past selves. All goes well until the pictures began to show them futures that don't look so rosy.

   What follows is a story of intrigue, love, madness, danger, and tragedy as the trio soon discover that messing with time is an exercise in futility…and much more dangerous than simply living your life in ignorance.

The Verdict: 
   I was not very optimistic when I started watching this film just from the fact that I hardy recognized anyone in the film. This quickly changed as I discovered the plot was very interesting and the actors delivered their characters very well.

    I love science-fiction films and have seen nearly every film ever made that haas something to do with time travel. What I found interesting here is that nobody actually traveled through time at all…but the manipulation of events in time was no less dangerous and haphazard (isn’t it always when it comes to messing with time?).

   Now.…I could sit here and nitpick with a discussion of time paradoxes and such, but I wouldn’t dare bore you with such trivial matters. The important thing to take away from a film, the most important in fact, is the entertainment value it has for you. This film, for me, was highly entertaining, especially due to the unique way it approached how this trio manipulated time (or did time manipulate them?).

  Of course, if you look closely and meticulously enough, you will probably find some plot holes. Time travel/ manipulation films always seem to have this drawback unless you have a writer that really wants to earn his check. That said, if you sit back and enjoy what is being presented, you will probably have a great “time” watching this film.

   In the end (or was it the beginning), this film was highly enjoyable…unexpectedly so, and the low budget was not a hinderance in making it “time” well spent. I took a picture of the future before I watched this film and saw three and a half (3.5) cinnamon sticks in my cup of tea….after I had watched this film.

   So…there you have it.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Take an Hour.…Take the Hill.

   One might assume from the title that this post might be about the entertaining world of politics. After all, if we really dedicated an hour to fixing the system, we could take Capitol Hill. Alas, I have blogged about the broken system enough and if you have not done anything about it by now…you won’t ever.

   No…this post is not about politics, but about YOU and what you could be doing to benefit yourself. I’m not going to make any assumptions about what you do to take care of yourself already, I’m just going to share with you what I am currently doing to take care of myself…and it involves taking an hour out of the day, and taking a hill.

   I have posted quite a bit about exercise and working out and hope such posts have been beneficial to anyone reading them. Sometimes I am hard-pressed to take my own advice (kinda like doctors being the worst patients) but other times I not only take my own advice, I build on it. Recently, it has been one of those times as I have rededicated myself to specific weight loss goals and am using walking as a key element in achieving those goals.

   I enjoy walking and have even dedicated some time to discussing the benefits of it on this blog. Now…when I say that I enjoy it, I’m speaking about those times I do it for stress relief or just as a leisure activity. What I have been doing with it lately can’t be described as “joy” in my book…although it has been extremely effective.

   As an additional component to my workout I have been taking an hour out of my day (usually right after my cardio/strength training) and using that hour to walk up and down one of the steepest hills in my neighborhood. Walking for an hour is great…walking for an hour up and down a hill is…tremendous (work).

   My experience with this routine is one of becoming closer to God…because midway up the hill is when I start praying for strength to get to the top (as gravity takes it’s toll), and once there…praying for strength to make it back down to the bottom without having a break-down (going downhill is, in many ways, more difficult for me that going uphill). Of course, all this is even more difficult if I don’t do it early in the morning and instead seek to punish myself by being out in the afternoon…when it’s the hottest.

   Let me now advise caution for anyone thinking of doing what I do in the way I do it as I admit, I do take risks…but that is a personal choice I make to get the most out of the effort I am putting in (and it’s certainly paying off). Maybe take a hill that is not so steep…and walk it later in the evening when it’s cooler. In short, do it in a way that is most comfortable for you and in a way that is in-line with your fitness goals.

   Maintaining your health should be one of the utmost priorities you have since your health is not something you can ever buy once it’s gone. The only payment that you can make to it is time and effort…or more specifically, ample time and proper effort. Take this post as another tool in helping that endeavor.

   Be good.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


   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: 

   Ed Helms has always been moderately funny to me. In this film, I think the real power of it comes from the writing which compliments Helm’s performance to enhance his “funny.” On the other side, I was surprised at how well he hit the dramatic notes here (what little there were), given how silly the film was designed to be.

   Christina Applegate is always a pleasure to look at and again, the script helped to elevate the relevance of her role, and she took full advantage of this. I think she had an easier time and a more stable performance not having to be overtly silly but instead written as a serious pillar much of the calamity happens around.

   Skyler Gisondo was very good in this and played well to the sympathies of the audience being a normal kid with eclectic proclivities stuck in a family plagued by calamity, much of which comes from the failed machinations of his father. That said, the reverse-bully element introduced by the performance of Steele Stebbins make for some laugh-out-loud moments in the film.

The Plot:  

   The Griswold’s are your typical American family (not) that take a vacation every year to keep the bonds of family strong (such as they are). Rusty Griswold has been doing this since he was a child (and the original “Vacation” film) and it has become family tradition.

   After overhearing how his wife Debbie has never liked the vacations they have been on, and confirming this by taking a closer look at the family vacation pictures, Rusty decides to do something different this year….and plans to revisit the place that started his tradition of vacations; Walley World.

   What follows is sad, tragic, refreshing, hopeful, and absolutely hilarious.

The Verdict: 

   I don’t usually go the movies to watch comedy films. There is just something about them that never has me feeling like my money was well spent paying to see them. I’m happy to say that this film did not give me that feeling.

    I’ll just cut to the “chase” and say that this film had me in tears…from laughing so hard. There are moments when I just laugh, and then there are moments when laugh, and laugh, and as my brain fully develops what I saw to get me laughing….I laugh some more. Yeah…it’s that funny.

   Perhaps my clue above already gave away the fact that as a viewer of the original film that came out in 1983, it was very nice to see Chevy Chase make an appearance in his original role as Clark Griswold (Rusty’s father)…and playing the role just as he did back in 1983.

  I was also surprised to see Chris Hemsworth. Although I don’t view him as a comedic actor, as I have already mentioned, the script really brought out the best in the cast and Hemsworth, although not used in a way of trying to be “funny,” had a scene in the film that nearly had me rolling on the floor…literally.


   If you are into comedy films (and I am usually not), take a look at this film and enjoy yourself. Not being my usual flavor, this film nevertheless had three and a half cinnamon sticks, in my cup of tea, in stitches.

Rating 3.5 / 5

   P.S. The original theme song makes an appearance in the film…and it’s just as catchy now as it was in 1983.

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