Saturday, October 31, 2015

“Age of Adaline” 

    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 (even though it’s heavy on drama and romance), please visit my other blog The Boxed Office for reviews, exclusively, on these types of movies.

The Cast: 

   Blake Lively (Adaline Bowman) did very well playing a woman coping with her reality that she is immortal and all the wisdom and heartbreak that comes from living such a life. It would seem to me that there is a level of detachment a person would have living a life of mystery and caution, and Lively captured this very well.

   Michiel Huisman (Ellis) was a great supporting character and lived up to what women would deem a “perfect’ man (for those in his taste). The dynamic between him and Lively was well played and even had me caring about is feelings as he dealt with a person dealing with a unique circumstance nobody really ever has before.

   Harrison Ford (William) really needs no introduction or any accolades from me. He is a tremendous actor and the screen time he had in this film was used to enhance the story as he is a tremendous actor that never disappoints.

The Plot: 
   The story of Adeline Bowman is an interesting one, narrated from the very beginning, with mystery and intrigue. Born in the year 1900 on January 1st, she lived a great life, married and had a child, and was the epitome of a happy story up until her husband is killed in a tragic accident.

   Making matters worse, she suffers her own accident, soon after he husband, but instead of dying…she is besieged by unique circumstances that actually make her immortal (unbeknownst to her at first). As the years go by and she realizes she does not age, others also realize it and she is forced to live her life always looking over her shoulder and covering her tracks as she changes her location and identity every decade.

   Her lifestyle of cautious suspicion and careful plans is thrown into chaos when she meets a man that moves her heart and forces her to question the quality of a life not fully lived, even if it lasts forever. What follows is a wonderful story of love, risk, and wisdom with a few wonderful twists along the way.

The Verdict: 
   I really enjoy science-fiction films that are not so heavy on the science, but simply use it to tell an interesting and engaging story about people and how they cope with unusual circumstances while trying their best to live life no different than anyone else.

   Immortals are not new to the big screen so I really appreciate a film that tackles the subject with it’s own unique presentation where the focus is not so much on the immortal person being immortal, but the sacrifices they have to make to keep their love ones protected while giving up one of the greatest benefits to even being alive…love.

   Throughout the film I found myself feeling for Adeline as realized that her immortality was really a prison for her and the blessing of longevity isn’t really a blessing if you are forced to let the best parts of you die in order to live in peace. I loved how later in the film her elderly daughter brings this realization to Adeline while still maintaining the mother/daughter relationship evident between mothers and their young daughters.

   Harrison Ford’s role was also revealing as he very much conveyed the emotions of a man that was forever touched by the love of a special person, and the heartache that brought given that person was Adeline herself.

This film kept my attention throughout and needed no special effects or large explosions to engage me. The story was well written and the film was well acted and the incidental fact that it was indeed based on science-fiction just added a level of complexity to the way the characters coped with their own humanity. 

This film was certainly my cup of tea and spiced up my cup with and a half cinnamon sticks.

Rating 3.5 / 5

Thursday, October 29, 2015


   Have you ever made a promise to yourself, implemented a new life course, or made a positive behavioral change….only to later break that promise, go off course, and go back to the same negative behavior you were seeking to correct? Welcome to the backslide.

   If you’re thinking this is going to be one of those inspirational posts reinforcing positivity…you’re right. If you don’t need to be lifted up and all is well, I invite you to peruse my other posts for something that interests you. However, if you are falling victim to your own humanity and find that things have gone slightly awry from what you planned, stay with me on this….and hopefully we can get you back on track.

   We all struggle with…something. You name it, and someone somewhere is struggling with it. When I say struggle, I mean actively trying to make a change and finding that decision to be much tougher than the simple desire to want change. Life is constant change, but not all of it is good and not all of it is voluntary. That said, we should be especially motivated when we have the opportunity to take initiative and exercise some measure of control.

  Now…we can read all the self-help books, watch all the experts, read all the inspirational blogs, and still not experience success with that which we struggle. Of course the opposite can also be said as there are many people that benefit greatly from the aforementioned inspirational tools.

   The first step in this whole process is to recognize the need or desire to change, after which a commitment is made reflected in taking the appropriate actions that facilitate that change. The first step in correcting the backslide though is to recognize that the commitment is wavering as reflected in your inaction or counter-actions to facilitating the change that is needed or desired.

      If we were to put this in religious terms (and why not since religious belief is yet, another tool by which we change our lives)…simply put, admit you are a sinner.

   Too heavy for you? Think about these following examples: You want to control your drinking habits, but you have to first admit you have a drinking habit. You want to quit smoking, but you first have to acknowledge you are a smoker. Any addiction you have and want to break comes with the acknowledgment first that you have the addiction. Any habit you want to change comes with the acknowledgement you have the habit. Even if you wish to become a vegan, you must first acknowledge that you have dietary habits counter to that.

   Why am I harping on this aspect so much? Many people often fail to correct the backslide primarily because they refuse to admit they are backsliding to begin with.

   You have quit smoking….for several weeks, then have one cigarette. It’s just one, no big deal…you are still a non-smoker right? Wrong. Just one becomes just one this month, then just one this week, then just one today…and so forth until full reversion has taken place. The backslide need not result in full reversion of behavior if you can recognize the severity and urgency of that one smoke to begin with, and take action at that time to recommit fully to the change that you needed ( I say needed here because it is, without a doubt, disastrous to your health to smoke).

   I’m here to tell you that you can overcome any backslide you are experiencing right now. How you do it can be a bit tricky, but until you exhaust all available options, you cannot say your situation is insurmountable. The only time it becomes insurmountable is when you decide it is, and neglect to even try.

   Are you backsliding today? If so…tomorrow can absolutely be different.

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