Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Movie Review: "Source Code"

   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: 
   Jake Gyllenhaal is superb and delivers a great performance as a man caught in a situation he doesn't understand and cannot control while ingrained with a sense of duty to follow instructions. There isn’t much for Michelle Monaghan to do besides play the role of neglected girlfriend looking for more...but she does it well and compliments the changes Gyllenhaal’s character takes through the movie. Vera Farmiga and Jeffrey Wright play their supporting roles very well as a soldier following orders against her conscience and a scientist pushing to make his project viable without conscience, respectively.
The Plot: 
   United States Army helicopter pilot Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an unwilling participant in the Source Code, a project designed by Dr. Rutledge Jeffrey Wright) to gain valuable information by projecting the consciousness of Stevens into the last eight minutes of the life of another man that has already died in the past from a terrorist bombing.
   Stevens must discover who the bomber is to prevent him from continued acts of terror in the present. Through his trips in the Source Code, Stevens becomes convinced that he can, instead, alter past events and save thousands of lives including that of Christina Warren (Michelle Monaghan), traveling companion and friend of the man Stevens inhabits.
   With each trip in the Source Code, more and more information is revealed as this story unfolds into a race-against-time thriller that will keep you guessing up until the very end.
The Verdict: 
   Source Code is gripping with more twists and turns than a pretzel. The fact that is keeps you guessing on so many levels makes you engross yourself in it in a desperate attempt to figure it all out with the main character. 
   Jake Gyllenhaal does a superb job of taking us with him on his mission to discover where the bomb is, who the bomber is, what happened to his real self and what can he really accomplish within the Source Code. Within all that, there is still a love story to be told and it is weaved within the movie very well to be a compliment instead of a distraction from all that is happening.
   I very much enjoy science-fiction thrillers and enjoy them even more when they take such an original approach. Although this film will certainly be compared to Deja Vu, it is worlds apart on every level that matters putting four cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sleeping Parents

 I need to invest in a bus pass. Sometimes I feel like I don’t need to be behind the wheel of a car because I’m reaching my limit on all the wild stuff I see. I can’t be the only one going through this, but it seems I’m always in the wrong place at the right time. It seems like there’s always something popping up that reinforces my lack of faith in the human capacity to think reasonably. This time it really strikes a cord with me...more than any of my previous behind-the-wheel observations because I’m a parent watching other parents sleeping while they're awake...with small children in their charge.

   It’s simply mind boggling to me why any parent would put their own child in harm’s way. Although some might scream ignorance as an excuse, that’s a horse I’m not riding at the rodeo. Perhaps I’m being harsh, it’s possible, but I can only view this from my perspective and experience as a parent that constantly troubleshooted about the safety of my children in every situation I knew they were in, could be in, and would be in. I can link every one of my few gray hairs directly to my children...but I’ll trade black for gray any day if it means my children are safe.

   The safety of a child starts with the parent and one of the most potentially unsafe places for a child to be is in the street. Even at the curb is nerve tingling place for any small child to be since I know they have it in them to bolt into the street with no warning. This brings me to my
 first observation of a “sleeping parent.” In my opinion, if you are putting a small child into a car and you choose the street side door over the curb side door to do’re asleep. WAKE UP! Has it never occurred to you that a car speeding by could hit you and your child? Has it crossed your mind that as you hold the door wide open and instruct your toddler to get it, that the busy mind of youth might have other plans and direct them into the street instead? I just can’t fathom the thought process that reveals the wisdom of bypassing a safe option for a potentially fatal one. Maybe it’s me...

As if that wasn’t bad enough, I’m really beside myself when I watch parents literally push their child out into traffic. I know, it sounds incredible, but what do you call it when a stroller with a baby in it precedes the searching eyes of the parent, looking to see if conditions are safe to cross the street? By the time that parent can observe that a car is coming, the stroller would already be hit. To clarify, I’m not talking about people that jump into the crosswalk with their strollers, although it’s also a bad practice to use the stroller to stop traffic in this way. I’m talking about people with their vision of conditions totally obstructed by a parked truck, SUV or a bus that they’ve just exited or are crossing in front of...and go to the edge of which to “peek”...with the stroller out in front of them. WAKE UP! Is it too much stress on you to reverse your direction so that when you “peek” the only exposure to traffic is your peeking eyes...instead of your unsuspecting, sleeping bundle of joy? That’s how I did it, and am very glad I did on some occasions. Maybe it’s me...

   With all the safety awareness taught in school, shown on television, and heard on the’s incomprehensible to me that someone would drive around with their children roaming free through the vehicle...jumping around as it were. I mean, seat belt safety has been a hot topic for a long time, so much so that you can now get a ticket for not having one on. For those parents not concerned with a ticket, then how about showing some concern about the reality of your child being smashed  the windshield at sixty miles per hour. WAKE UP! Seat belts and car seats aren’t an iron clad guarantee of safety, but they do save lives...and while you may not want to be bothered to strap your children in properly, I think you’d be a bit more bothered to have to arrange a funeral for your child because of your stupidity. There I go again...too harsh perhaps? Maybe it’s me...

   Maybe it really is me and I’m missing something here. Maybe I’m just making a big deal out of nothing and need to take it down a notch. Perhaps I really should “Mind your own business” and not say a word when I see innocent children being fed to potential tragedy. I’m not perfect, but I’m certainly not sleeping when it comes to my children and loathe to see other parents asleep when it comes to theirs. 
   I would ask everyone reading this post to do two things for me please. First, share this post with at least five other people...parents if you can, but anyone will do, and ask them to share it with another five. Second, (and this might be asking a bit much of you, but I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t care), whenever you make any of the observations I posted about above or other situations equally dangerous for a child precipitated by a sleeping parent, please honk your horn long and loud...and WAKE THAT PARENT UP!!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Domino Effect

I sometimes just sit and think...and my mind wanders into areas I don’t tread daily because of time constraints and the daily shuffle of life. Usually a problem will warrant some contemplation, although not always my own, trying to solve them is becoming more of a pastime than I would like. I have found that the best solution to a problem is the one that averts the problem to begin with. Easier said than done, and certainly not a perfect process, it brings me some comfort to think my preventive measures have some bearing....or do they? Enter “The Domino Effect”...
   Every moment cascades down upon the next after it, and the one after that, and so forth. Within every moment are the decisions to be made that will determine the direction and speed of the next fall. Picture a room called life, with dominos upright in elegant, yet complex patterns. Perhaps you have set them up...or perhaps you have just happened upon them, it really doesn’t matter because should you tip one over, there is no guarantee that they will follow the complete pattern. What does matter is the decision on which one to tip. Avoidance isn’t an option unless you are going to leave the room...and most don’t want to leave the room before their time.
   Eventually you will tip one, either by accident...which would be caused by a decision to be in a certain place in the room at a certain time, or on purpose. Accidents happen and events occur that are not within our power to control...however, some events occur that are directly related to a choice we’ve made. We might be very pleased when we tip domino number five...but not so happy by the time domino number ninety-two falls. It almost sounds absurd to ask how we could have known domino ninety-two would fall since the pattern was laid out before us...but often we are so mesmerized by the pattern that we don’t look at the details of it. Sometimes we don’t see the problem until it falls right on top of us...and then, of course, it’s too late.

   Your decision to act today...or not, could be the direct catalyst for the good fortune that shines upon you down the road...or the cause of a future tragedy. It may sound extreme, but life is extremely unpredictable when we don’t take the time to study the pattern and predict it. Even when this is done, there is no absolute way to be certain of the findings until they are revealed by the hands of time.

   When you really stop to think about it, the Domino Effect can’t be avoided. All that can be done is a choice of which pattern to tip. Going with the probabilities is always a safer bet than hinging on the possibilities...even if the possibilities can never be ruled out.

   There are many examples of this in popular culture from books to movies, and although science-fiction takes it to an extreme, I think the point is illustrated well. I’ve examined my own life in this light...indeed, I continue to always examine the decision made right now in this light. Some have accused me of being a deliberate thinker, but I’m just cautiously picking which pattern I like...and which domino to tip.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A Silent Room

   I remember exactly where I was September 11, 2001. I remember the shock at hearing the man on patrol squelch over the loudspeaker to turn to the news. I remember my brain slowly processing what I was watching...a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center North Tower, and as the reporters began to speculate about the possibility of it being deliberate, another plane hit the South Tower. I watched I remember being in a room full of the bravest men I that are always willing to give all they have to help another, knowing they can be called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice...being hushed and humbled by the realization of 9/11.

   The kitchen table at a firehouse has almost every profession present. There are “firehouse” lawyers, doctors, coaches, accountants, mechanics...and politicians. Like all of America, the political views at the firehouse table are as varied as snowflakes from the sky...and not one of them came up on 9/11. When the South Tower fell, the silence that ripped through the room didn’t spark a single debate. At that time, we weren’t Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Independents, or anything else but a room full of shock.

   We quickly, however, became men that wanted to do something...that wanted to help because we knew well that there were thousands in need of it. I remember the feeling that the same could happen here in Boston and the sinking feeling that crept through me when we found out that both planes had come from Boston. The fall of the North Tower, the attack on the Pentagon, and the crash in Pennsylvania only cemented the fact that everything had permanently changed and the world my children are growing up in would never mirror the world I did.

   Thousands of good people died that day. People who are innocent within the complexities of whatever events led to those horrible incidents. Of all the many arguments and polarizing positions that are taken when discussing 9/11...that is an indisputable and tragic fact. I remember many things from that day ten years ago, and every year I remember this fact most, for the memory of those people and their families. The victims of 9/11 should be honored and their families consoled. Losing a loved one is never easy and made all the more difficult when the circumstances of which is, arguably, the most defining moment in our nation’s history.

   Some would use this day as a soapbox for offering their particular beliefs about the how and why of ten years ago. I say it should have been offered yesterday...and can be offered tomorrow, but today, the only offering should be compassion for those fellow Americans personally touched by the spectre of grief and loss. 

   There are generally two types of people that take a position on this subject...those that believe and trust their government...and those that don't. Neither position eradicates anyone's love of their country and empathy for their fellow compatriots. Neither position matters on this day in particular, because it isn’t about theories, politics, or’s about remembering those we lost.