Friday, February 28, 2014

Movie Review: “Rush”

   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

   Chris Hemsworth isn’t just a long-haired muscle bound deity from Asgard, he actually shows himself, in this film, to be a very good actor. His portrayal of Formula 1 race car driver James Hunt is excellent. He sells the persona of a man living life on the edge and enjoying everything that comes with a successful racing career. In those moments where real life catches up with him, Hemsworth sells the emotion of it.

 Daniel Brühl gives an excellent performance and what I assume to be an accurate portrayal of Formula 1 race car driver Niki Lauda. I say this because the real Niki Lauda has hailed it as such. Niki is a man committed to excellence, always serious about racing and doesn’t have the best personality for making friends. 

The Plot: 
Based on real events, the 1976 season of the Formula 1 racing circuit was one to never be forgotten. It was the year that culminated the rivalry between the popular and wild Englishman James Hunt and the genius of the calculating Austrian Niki Lauda.  

Hunt and Lauda first meet in the Formula 3 circuit and become instant rivals. Eventually each finds their own path to Formula 1 and renew their rivalry, but with much more on the line to gain.and lose. Both men continuously push each other to wild and dangerous extremes in the quest to becoming world champion.

When Lauda suffers horrific burns in a crash on the most dangerous track in the race circuit, putting him off the track for a while, Hunt seizes upon the opportunity to earn points and close the gap between the two men. Lauda has amassed a health point lead driving for Ferarri while Hunt has struggled with the McLaren car. Seeing Hunt win from his hospital bed, while undergoing procedure after procedure to save his life, Lauda is motivated in a way very few people ever are.

What follows is a an astonishing display of determination, will and skill as Lauda returns to the track, not even close to fully healed to renew the infamous rivalry and secure his place as world champion. Hunt will also not be deterred and the last race, taking place under worse weather conditions than the race that caused Lauda to crash…will determine who will be the 1976 world champion.

The Verdict: 
I think films that are based on real events weigh a bit heavier on me when I watch them. The thought that I’m watching a slice of someones life is fascinating to me. This film was exciting, entertaining and interesting…all at the same time.

   Of course the race scenes will keep you glued to the screen, and being a child in the 1970’s, this film also had a nostalgic feel to me. The parts this film really shines though are the parts away from the race track. I expected to be bored as Director Ron Howard explored the lives of these two men, apart from their rivalry but I was very wrong. The depiction of these men’s lives was interesting and brought them to life for me. Once that connection was formed, the race sequences became that much more intense.

   With great acting, great directing, great cinematography, and an interesting story, this film roared from start to finish and sped across the finish line with three and a half cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Good Guys Don’t Wear Badges (Part 2)

   The police are out of control. I have been of the mindset that this is something that just happened, but I now have to face the distinct possibility that it has been going on all along, and that the advent of better video technology and availability is simply showing us something that has always been present.

   Not all police officers are negligent in the performance of their duties, but the blue code of silence makes all of them culpable since all it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do or say nothing. I know well the label any officer will get for speaking out, but also understand that watching a crime being committed as a sworn protector of the community and upholder of the law makes you just as culpable as the officer committing the crime.

   Watching bad guys with badges is becoming the norm, especially if you’re a regular viewer of You Tube. It makes you wonder if there are any police officers left that don’t feel they have a sense of entitlement attached to their position. 

Not to pick on the state of Oklahoma (but I’m going to), but it seems they are a shining example of what police culture has become. The case of Pearl Pearson has the word “allegedly” attached to it, since the dash camera footage hasn’t been made available to the public, but given what other footage of other officers are doing in that state, the credibility of his case is not a stretch.

   The short version goes like this: 64 year old Pearson allegedly refused to comply with verbal commands and resisted arrest resulting in a seven minute struggle that left him looking like he lost a championship boxing match. The catch in all of this is that Pearson is deaf and thus, never heard any verbal commands and while allegedly trying to produce his license (which affirms his disability), took a beating…allegedly. All this, despite the fact his car has a placard on it informing anyone that will read it that he is deaf.

   Pearson is said to have a son that is a police officer and a son-in-law that is a sheriff and thus knows how too handle police encounters. Obviously his information is outdated because the police these days deal in brutality and bullying and the only role left for the average citizen is that of victim.

   Then there’s the story of Oklahoma State Trooper Daniel Martin who decided it was a smart decision to pull over an ambulance to give the driver a piece of his mind for not yielding and allegedly making an obscene gesture…resulting in his supervisor being arrested, all the while ignoring the FACT they had a patient that needed transport to a hospital!

   As a first responder myself, it’s absolutely mind boggling to me why any officer would act this way. I suppose we can all chalk it up to human nature but when does that excuse become too convenient for abhorrent behavior becoming normal? We see police plant evidence, beat already unconscious suspects after they horrifically crash after pursuit…and lord knows what else as you peruse the internet in the video age. Where will it end?

If the good cops don’t force the bad ones to do better, if juries don’t find police guilty when the evidence is obvious, and judges don’t uphold the law when corrupt cops are brought before them…then where can we begin to fix this broken culture? Why hasn’t anyone figured out that there would be no need for a blue code of silence if everyone were doing exactly what they were supposed to do? Why hasn’t anyone figure out that people cannot comply with orders when they are getting the crap beat out of them…and raising your hand to protect yourself, to save your life, is not resisting.

   I know what some of you are thinking, not all cops are bad. My only response to that is…how can you tell?

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Perfect Person

   The perfect person. Do you think such a person really exists? I’m not talking from a religious point of view (I’m sure Jesus Christ was the first thought for many) but from the point of view that you look at someone and think…"wow, that’s perfection."

   An obvious response to that question from men would probably be every time a Sports Illustrated Swim Suit edition is available, or from women perhaps the People Magazine Sexiest Man Alive…but how often does that happen in everyday life with real people? How often does that reaction happen while you’re shopping, or getting gas, or out getting a bite to eat? 

It probably doesn’t happen very often in our everyday travels quite the same way it does when we look at celebrities or models, but I’m willing to bet you might view certain attributes of other people and give them the “perfection” label. I’m also probably talking more to men now than women…but since I don’t think like a woman (I really can’t), I have no way of knowing exactly what they think about.

   Maybe they do look at a man and think his hair is perfect, or his teeth, or his shoulders. I’ve heard women comment about looking at a man’s crotch and judging the bulge…so who am I to say how far down the rabbit hole the thoughts of women go when discussion or thinking about men.

 I know how men think. I know men see women all the time that have some semblance of perfection. They have a perfect face, perfect breasts, perfect buttocks, perfect lower half, perfect upper half, perfect body, perfect eyes…it happens. At this point I’d expect any woman reading this to become self conscious of how they look (as if you aren’t always), but I assure you I’m going somewhere with this.

   Where I’m going is some place you’ve always been, but might never knew you were at. Many of us look at ourselves and see only the flaws, or at the very least, see areas we think could use some improvement. Very few of us, if anyone (but there has to be someone…the odds don’t favor a vacuum) see themselves as absolutely perfect. That said, I’m betting that most of us have been looked at by another, and even if not thought of as being a perfect package, have had some attribute thought of as perfect. It might not even be a physical one, but something about us…something about everyone, is seen as “perfect.”

I know it’s a bold statement to make, and many reading this are waiting for me to back it up. Well, wait no longer because the math on this is real easy. There are seven billion of us sharing this planet, all diverse in our thinking, diverse in our particular taste…all beholding beauty as seen through our own eyes.

   Perfection isn’t some unwavering standard we all share, but more of a ambiguous preference we each have at any given moment. This makes all of us “perfect” people in the eyes of someone else at some time in our life…even if it’s through the eyes of our parents the day we were born.

So the next time you look in the mirror and think what you are seeing can’t possibly appeal to someone else, think again. The next time you see someone looking at you for a second longer than usual and think to yourself that they must be critiquing you…or perhaps they’re just weird (both of which could be true, at the same time even), it might just be that they are taking a few extra moments to view perfection.

   So go ahead and make whatever improvements will make you happy with yourself, but also know that you are perfect…just the way you are, and will continue to be perfect when you become the way you want to be.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Ignorance: The Unknown Weapon

   What would you say if I told you there was a battle going on, and the most devastating weapon of the battle was the one you’ll never know is being used against you? I know, sounds dramatic and covert, but when you stop to think about it (as I have), it may not seem so far fetched at all.

   There is an old saying that goes “what you don't know can’t hurt you.” There is some truth to it as there are many examples of ignorance being bliss, but I can also think of many more examples where ignorance is destructive and prohibitive to the advancement of oneself. What you don’t know can indeed harm you and hinder your progress.

The problem is compounded when ignorance has become an established institution and those being deprived of knowledge willfully do so thinking that they are informed. There is probably nothing more gratifying to those wielding ignorance as a weapon than to have those they are victimizing do all the work for them. Some of what I’m about to discuss will fall on deaf ears and quickly become nothing more than one opinion versus another, but that’s what’s supposed to happen when nefarious machinations come to fruition.

   The most obvious offender using the unknown weapon is the government. Not just this one…but any government that wishes to maintain the status quo for the benefit of the economic minority. I’m truly amazed at how many people still trust the government implicitly and believe the good nature of humanity always prevails over our deviant proclivities. 

   Everyone has heard about some type of “cover-up” performed by those trusted with our best interests. The great machine would have us think such thoughts are the province of those not fully mentally competent, but if that were true…then why are there even “whistleblowers” willing to divulge what we never knew? Why do we attack and denounce those that actually do let their good nature prevail? Sounds a bit Topsy-Turvy to me.

   Why is it so hard to fathom that there are elements within our society that wish to stifle knowledge for their own benefit? I mean, really? History is replete with examples of this, yet we deny it when it comes to certain subjects because the damage it will do to our world view is more than we can bare. I say we toughen up, ask the hard questions and accept the cold answers. If we don’t, how can we ever hope to make serious progress or shape a better world for our children?

Look at healthcare. The whole system is designed for making profit, so it shouldn’t be so hard to believe when we hear whispers of our health being given a deliberate back seat to profit margins. I mean, do you really think a pharmaceutical company is going to willingly lose money to make you healthy? People would go to jail for that…so why is it a stretch to understand that they will gladly make money, at the expense of your health?

   There are some thinking I’m a “conspiracy theorist”, or that I’m off my meds, but the truth is all that is required for a conspiracy to happen is for a two or more people to plan in secret (happens all the time) and I’m not on any medication (shocker). I’m very sane (debatable depending on whom you ask), very logical and very much understand that in life, anything that can happen on a small scale, can be duplicated on a larger one. In fact, it happens all the time.

Two people fight. Two small groups of people fight. Two large armies of people fight. Two countries full of people fight. Heck…you can even say all that can happen for the same reason (for example over a woman). Looking at a small model of using ignorance to maintain power, let me illuminate with a real life occurrence to clarify. 

   It’s no secret that I’m into pop culture (comics) and as such, am a part of many discussion pages on Facebook. On one such page, I demonstrated superior knowledge than the resident “expert” and presented it clearly enough to effect the thoughts and decisions of other less knowledgable people on the page. I was quickly removed from that page…having never broken a single rule or guideline. My only crime was removing the ignorance of those that haven’t read as much as myself and thus, threatening the “guru” status of a man that wished for things to be framed how he wished to frame them using erroneous facts and slanted presentations.

   Now, if such a thing can happen on a small scale…if such a person exists on that page, why then could it also not happen on a larger scale or people like that hold positions of power? The answer of course is that anything that happens on a small scale can be duplicated on a larger scale. The truth is that such a thing happens all the time.

  Of course there are people that wish to preserve their position, their power, their status and if keeping others ignorant means they can accomplish that, then it’s done. Anyone thinking this is not the case has already fallen victim to the unknown weapon…even after I have now made it known. Probably the only thing more dangerous than those using this weapon, are the victims perpetuating the effects of it.

   Don’t you think it’s time to wake up?