Sunday, March 25, 2012

Movie Review: "Centurion"

   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: 

   Michael Fassbender is certainly a rising star and is becoming more recognizable ever since his success on “X-Men: First Class.” His talent continues to shine through in this movie, more so since he is the main focus in the movie with everyone else playing a supporting role. He proved that he can carry my interest with his ability to draw me into his character and make me care about his situation. Dominic West plays a supporting role but is the only other recognizable name in the film (at least to me). He is a good actor, very talented and adept at playing bad guys (see “300” and “John Carter”), although his role here is defined by what side of the fence you happen to be on. Olga Kurylenko’s role doesn’t call for much range, just that she show up and exhibit rage expressed in lethal ability....and she delivers.
The Plot: 

   Quintas Dias (Fassbender) is the Roman sole survivor of a Pict attack on his outpost. After escaping his captors, he is rescued from certain death by the Ninth Legion under the command of General Titus Flavius Virilus (West). The Ninth Legion has been dispatched to march north and end the Pict threat conclusively.
   Etain (Kurylenko) has been assigned to accompany the Ninth Legion as their guide and scout through the harsh northern lands of the Picts...but her past is never very far away from her, nor are the consequences of those experiences.
   After the Ninth Legion is ambushed and General Virilus captured, Quintas Dias and a small band of six survivors set out to rescue him and return to Roman territory. What follows is a harrowing adventure in survival, betrayal...and surprisingly, love.

The Verdict: 

   I watched this movie on a road trip and didn’t know anything about it as it began, and wasn’t very excited about watching it until I saw Fassbender’s name pop up. I was just about ready to go to sleep instead, but decided to give it my attention...and it was a decision that I’m very glad I made.
   The cinematography was well done and the directing kept me enthralled from one scene to the next as the movie flows seamlessly. I was pleasantly surprised at how exciting the combat scenes were and a little shocked at how gory some of the shots were, but it added to the intensity and the realism of the film.
   I’ve read that the movie is more based on myth than actual historical events, and I didn’t scrutinize it for historical flaws or hinge the value of it by it’s historical accuracy. I watched out of interest with a slight hope of being entertained...and what I got in return was more entertainment than I knew what to do with. Despite the extremely small budget, it weighs in as one of the better films I’ve seen, easily ambushing three cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Friday, March 23, 2012

We’re Facebook Friends...?

   Facebook...the revolutionary vision of a man that has changed the way we interact with each other. Well, that’s a little too much spin...more like the revolutionary application of a social site from a modest vision of a man that has changed the way we interact. Yeah...that’s better, and more accurate.
   I honestly don’t think I can write anything about Facebook that hasn’t already been written...but I’m going to try anyway. The only real experience that anyone can write about with certainty that it will be unique, is their own experiences. Most people seem to be having a good experience with it, if we believe the reports on the number of users. Some have had horrible experiences...and those reports make for interesting reading, to say the least. My philosophy is Facebook is what you make of it. How you use it will determine what your interactions will be...within the confines of human behavior, of course. However, as this social network expands, it’s all for naught if we are not expanding our personal relationships.
   How many Facebook friends do you have? How many of them are people you really know...or what is more important, people that really know you? I’ve met people on Facebook and have had very positive interactions...on Facebook. This type of social interaction is very different though from spending time with someone (in the real world) and getting to know who they really are. Let’s face it...on Facebook, you can be anybody and the presentation may not always be an accurate representation. If we are not using Facebook to build real relationships, then what are we using it for?

   I get many uses out of it...chief among them is keeping in touch, almost instantly, with many people, friends, and family that otherwise would probably be lost to me as I shuffle through the kaleidoscope of my life. I know I’m horrible at picking up the phone, so it’s a great tool for me to facilitate communication. Anyone owning or doing business can certainly find a use for the marketing capability Facebook presents. I have also gotten this type of use out of it. It has also been fabulous at connecting with people that I would otherwise never get the opportunity to interact with as they hustle through their busy schedules bringing you and I the entertainment we enjoy.
   Yes...Facebook has many uses, but if a difference is going to be made on a level that truly matters, then it occurred to me that I should be using it to build real connections...and move away from “Facebook” friends...and into just friends. The fact that I can walk by someone and not have a clue that we were in a fascinating conversation a week earlier just boggles me. Worse than that is the eerie feeling that I know a complete stranger...their visage familiar to me because my subconscious mind has stored it within the catacombs of my brain after seeing their picture on Facebook. Ever notice the increasing number of people walking around with that “I know you from somewhere” look?
   I was recently approached with the quickly becoming classic opener...”we’re Facebook friends” and was disappointed in myself for not knowing the truth of that phrase. I have many Facebook friends, but not much time to get to know operational fact I’m now seeking to change. As my network expands, I’m realizing it’s a very small world...and shrinking all the time. However, it will become larger, in a sense, when the “cyber” is taken out of the space we occupy...and the “human” is put back into the relations we have.
   “Hello, I’m just dropping in (your Facebook page) to see how you're doing and hoping that all is going well.” It’s a start....

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just Show Up

   All success begins with being in a position to grasp it. It doesn’t matter the magnitude or the perceived importance of the event or situation. It won’t happen for anyone if they are not present to bring it about. It sounds so very simple, but it is surprising to me the amount of people and the frequency with which people have a hard time of just showing up.
   Half the battle of keeping and getting a job is simply to show up on time. Half the battle to achieving in school is to just show up to class on time...both physically and mentally. Looking for that perfect seat in the movie theater...? Show up. Maybe this person could be “the one” up. Think you or your team can win that event or contest...? Show up. When you really think about it, many of the circumstances that shape our goals and dreams start with simply showing up to initiate the proper sequence of events.
   The world is a demanding place and expectations are sometimes way too high in contrast to reality, in my opinion. However, the demand that someone be somewhere they obligated themselves to be or the expectation they will arrive as promised is not unreasonable in the least. It’s simply a good habit to get into and will always put you closer to that which you are striving for.
   Why have I dedicated a post to this? What do I know about the subject? Theses are good questions you may have as you read this and all I can say is...take it from someone who’s chronically late (me), it pays to show pays even better to be on time. If you’re like me and like to have you’re cake and eat it too ( as seen here), and prefer some sweet frosting on that up early!
   Despite my shortcomings (now wouldn’t that be an interesting post?) I didn’t write this solely from self reflective examination, but from some recent experiences wherein I wasn’t the cause, but shared a large part of the effect. Yes...not showing up doesn’t just bare negative consequences for the missing person, but the ramifications can cascade and envelope the innocent that simply made the mistake of believing you would do as you said you would.
   Sometimes the consequences are minor...perhaps your team loses a game because a key player was missing. At other times the consequences can be dire...and somebody could get seriously hurt because participation was critical. Now...I’m not saying there aren’t times when plans don’t come together. Heck, if there’s one thing I’m keenly aware of is that sometimes, plans don’t come together. All I’m saying is that it’s extremely important to develop the habit and good practice of being where you should be...when you should be there.
   Take the most recent lottery winner for example. They say that you can’t win if you don’t play...and not everyone that plays will eventually win. In fact, most won’t ever win. However, everybody that has won shares one thing in common. Either in person or by proxy...they showed up! If you go and play the lottery after reading this, you probably won’t win...but if you don’t definitely won’t. Success operates in the same get it, you have to show up.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Good Side of Dating

   Dating: Two actors coming together for one night to put on a show...for each other.

   Ah...the dating game. We’ve all played it and some of us are still playing it. I’ve always wondered why it was called a game since it can be such a serious endeavor. Looking for a mate is a mixed bag at best. Although dating isn’t always about looking for a mate. Often it’s simply about having a good time with great company. The real question the person you’re dating really the person they present themselves to be?

   The answer, of course, is...complicated. We all are who we say we are, until we show we aren’t. Everyone, well...almost everyone, endeavors to show the best of themselves when it comes to dating. Meeting new people can be fun and nerve wracking at the same time so nervousness and the desire to leave a good impression work to suppress the parts of ourselves we show to others we are most comfortable with. How often have you dated the most articulate and well spoken person...only to find out that they really cuss like a sailor behind closed doors?

   This speaks directly to what I’m talking about. It’s not necessarily a bad thing...just a thing we all need to acknowledge as a part of human nature, or perhaps a product of the society we live in. How much would dating change if we all showed our true selves instead of the self seeking to impress? As interesting as dating would probably be a lot more shocking, but truth often has that effect when it’s delivered raw and unedited. 

   The thought can be entertaining if you take it to an extreme. Imagine your date having no inhibition to passing gas while driving you to the intended destination. I’m chuckling as I write this...but really, who would even continue the date such a person after such a heinous attack on their olfactory senses? Now travel twenty years into the future to a married couple where passing gas in the car is still nasty, but after twenty years of marriage, children and the tribulations of life in isn’t quite the deal-breaker it was on the first date.

   As funny as that may be (or not), there is a more serious side to everything I’m talking about. The “good side” shown in dating can sometimes mask some really serious personality disorders. Depending on how long this act is played out, it can have some serious ramifications when a few dates turns into years and a family, by which time the gradual revealing of the truth has gone unnoticed as you wake up one day next to a total stranger when compared to those first few dates. 

   There is something to be any case, for always being and showing who you really are, and letting the cards fall as they will. Dating might not be as much fun this way, but it would certainly be more productive than the show we often put on for each other. It might even leave the stage and instead of the previous definition, go a little something like this:

   Dating: two people presenting themselves honestly to each other for one night...and either having a good time, or learning a valuable lesson.

   All this...and I haven’t even touched on the internet dating game...smh. Stay tuned....