Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Movie Review: “The Bourne Legacy”

   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: 

   Jeremy Renner was enjoyable as Hawkeye in the Avengers and gave a decent performance in this film. The subject matter of the film didn’t give him much range to explore as an actor, but he can’t be blamed for the script. Edward Norton is a very good actor, but what can he really do if all his role calls for is to sit in a room and order the deaths of science projects? Rachel Weisz probably had the most to do in performance delivery as a doctor that is thrust into the middle of a project meltdown with no clue how the all the moving parts work. She delivered in her role...but it was nothing that hasn’t been seen before.

The Plot:

   This film runs concurrently with The Bourne Ultimatum. I can’t wait to view both on BlueRay and compare the events to see if they got it right.

   While Jason Bourne is exposing Operation Blackbriar and the Treadstone Project in The Bourne Ultimatum, Eric Byer (Edward Norton) is ordering the elimination of all members of Operation Outcome...from agents to scientist.

   One such agent is Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner) and scientist Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). Because of Cross’s genetically modified enhancements, he is able to avoid the first attempt on his life and evade subsequent attempts as the film progresses. In his efforts to stay alive, and enhanced, he seeks out Dr. Shearing, saving her life from a second assassination attempt after she survives the first that leaves all her colleagues dead.

   Cross takes Shearing on a wild ride in an attempt to remain what he has become, while trying to stay one step ahead of all the resources the United States government is bringing against them to eliminate any trace that the program existed.

The Verdict: 

   I’m a fan of all the previous “Bourne” films and thought this one would be more of the same, but with a different agent to focus on. I was right about that, but wrong in my thoughts that it would carry the same delivery as the other films before it.

   Renner does not deliver as much as Damon does, but this has everything to do with the script and very little to do with his acting ability. The film seemed rushed as I never got the chance to really know the characters...but very slow in the fact that it spent a lot of time explaining the circumstances surrounding the motivations of the antagonists. It could have done more with less explanation, and more action. The action that was in it was good, but very brief and too heavy on the suspense aspect. I don’t need to see a chase last for twenty gets boring after ten.

   If you are a fan of the Bourne films, then you’ll want to see this just to further flesh out the entire story of everything associated with Jason Bourne. I found value in the movie from this aspect only, but was disappointed in that it was one long chase movie that delivered few answers to questions I wasn’t asking, and focused on people I didn’t care about. It could have been a better film, but only served up two and a half, out of five, cinnamon sticks in my cup of tea.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Congressional Reform Act: A Good Start

   There has been a chain letter circulating through the internet for years now. It presents itself as an idea from Warren Buffet, but the truth is the only part of it that came from him was a simple quote. Although the contents are not his, the ideas in the letter continue to raise questions, inspire discussion...and motivate people into thinking positive about where we are as a country, and where we want to be. Obviously, something this inspirationally viral and full of ideas simply must be discussed on this site, dedicated to the advent of idea.

   “I could end the deficit in 5 minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than 3% of GDP, all sitting members of Congress are ineligible for re-election.” This was the quote that sparked a firestorm. It was meant as a joke...but takes a serious poke at a large part of the country’s economic problem...Congress! With members of Congress coming to the table with the agendas of those that line their pockets and fund re-election campaigns, instead of the best interests of the’s no mystery why nothing substantial gets done for the benefit of everyone. They are too busy pushing benefits for the selected few.

   The following points should be viewed carefully...

1. No Tenure / No Pension. A Member of Congress collects a salary while in office
and receives no pay when they are out of office.

   Now you’ve got to wonder who would still do the job...if it really wasn’t a job, but a paid privilege to serve. People are making careers out of being in Congress, but does that path really serve the interests of the people...or are those on that path too busy trying to maintain their own personal design for their life choice?

2. Congress (past, present & future) participates in Social Security. All funds in the Congressional retirement fund move to the Social Security system immediately. All future funds flow into the Social Security system, and Congress participates with the American people. It may not be used for any other purpose.

   It seems to me any issues with Social Security would get fixed real fast if this were ever the case. 

3. Congress can purchase their own retirement plan, just as all Americans

   Putting those that make the decisions that effect you and I on an even keel means they make decisions that also effect themselves (and I don’t mean like point number 4). There is a lot of debate in Congress about a great many things...and I’m eager to see how that debate changes when they are no longer talking about abstracts that effect other people, but specifics that affect them along with everyone else.

4. Congress will no longer vote themselves a pay raise. Congressional pay will rise by the lower of CPI or 3%. must be nice to just vote yourself a raise whenever you feel the need...or whim. Things getting a little tight in the pocket...? Take a vote, get a raise. Probably the only time a unanimous decision is made in Congress. I’m in favor of bottling this genie by capping it at 3% and tying it into the Consumer Price Index.

5. Congress loses their current health care system and participates in the same health care system as the American people.

   Now this is hot potato! Health care has been at the center of the ideological debate between the Demon-crats and Rethuglicans (yes, I’m an independent thinker). Want to see both parties come to a consensus on health care? Put them in the same system as the rest of America and they’ll stop yelling at each other, and start talking with each other. They will either settle for the less we have...or upgrade all of us to where they have comfort. Take a guess which it will be...?

6. Congress must equally abide by all laws they impose on the American

   Well...this one sounds good, but I think that human nature will prevail here, at least a little bit. I can see high profile situation being enforced to the letter as it would with everyone else....but it’s the small stuff that will still get lost in translation. Think of it as the perks an officer of the law has...just because they’re the police, like parking under a “No Parking” sign.  Could we live with these small acts of elitism? We do now already...but you have to wonder if that is how it all started in the first place, for things to get to where they are now

7. All contracts with past and present Members of Congress are void effective 1/1/12. The American people did not make this contract with Members of Congress. Legislators made all these contracts for themselves. Serving in Congress is an honor, not a career. The Founding Fathers envisioned citizen legislators, so ours should serve their term's, then go home and back to work.

   So the “effective” date would need to be modified, since it already passed...or not, since it casts a net over everyone that has, is, and will Congress. I’ve mentioned before how we need less politicians and more statesmen. The need for political straight talk has never been greater...and if our Legislators are unwilling or incapable of doing this, then perhaps it’s time we, the people, used our considerable power to make some changes that will actually make a positive difference. 

   The original chain letter said “THIS IS HOW YOU FIX CONGRESS”...can anyone honestly read the above ideas, and disagree that this would be a start? Well...of course someone can (and probably will), but that would just be an example of being part of the problem...instead of working toward a workable solution.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Let It Out

   There is a saying that there is nothing new under the sun. It can be argued, I suppose, but the sentiment is documented in the careful observation of most things under the sun. The fact that people continue to behave as....well, people, only bolsters this position. Take for example, the practice by many to bury and hold onto frustration, anger, sadness and a plethora of other emotions, instead of the often recommended course of action of “getting it off your chest.”

   Many times people hold onto much negative emotions...letting them fester and mutate instead of bringing this darkness into the light. It’s something many do and a behavior I didn’t consider to write about until I recently heard a story of such a case that had been festering...for many years. Imagine being friends with someone...close friends, for many years, and one day an inquiry into some curious behavior leads to a torrential outpouring of negative emotions against you. For you it would come as something out of the blue, from left field, off the wall. For your friend, it’s been festering for years...yes, years...and today was the day it all came to a head.

   I heard this story and it gave me pause. I began to think to myself if I have been harboring any bad feelings toward anyone and if so, what was preventing me from either addressing the issue...or letting those negative emotions go. I also began an  to determine if this was indeed a modus operandi of people in general...and found that although it depends on the individual and their life philosophy, many will cling to their perceptions and emotions attached to them for a long time unless otherwise resolved. study was as far from scientific as asking a bunch of people can be, but it did give some insight into this subject matter.

   It is also interesting to note that although a subject can be resolved in the way of all the issues clearing the air...being discussed and understood with everyone informed on all thoughts on the matter, this is no guarantee that bridges will be built. Many people, once bridges are burned, let them smolder even after the facts surrounding the flames have been doused. Is it human to hold grudges? Certainly. Is it healthy? Probably not. In the opening case to this post...certainly not. If you are friends with someone, part of being a friend and having a true friendship is full disclosure of those things that polarize emotions and cause tension. If this isn’t happening...then perhaps a reevaluation is called for.

   Apart from the situations between friends, everyone gets to a point, at some time...where they have a surplus of frustration, anxiety, anger, or just have a moment when the weight of the world just seems crushing. Let it out. I can’t say everyone has someone to talk to...but everyone can find someone to talk to. The pool starts with family and friends, then extends to people you know...and then to people you don’t know. I mean really...if you can’t afford a professional and have no family of friends, there are still free resources available for you to let it out. Even a good yell or scream is a step in the right direction.

   We see news stories all the time of people that perform heinous crimes, and although this is not, by any means, the proper venue to express unresolved emotional problems, I think it noteworthy that most of them have issues that were either unknown prior, or not acknowledged when presented. I’m not absolving any one of abhorrent behavior...I’m just saying that the philosophy of “let it out” is a good one and a positive facilitator against these acts of tragedy.

   Time for some positive self reflection. Are you harboring feelings that are a constant buzz, or are mounting internal pressure within you? Let it out. Are you angry at someone for something they did (or didn’t do) and they don’t even know it? Let it out. Are positive feelings for someone festering...and in doing so, having a negative effect on you? Let it out.

   Let it all out.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Olympic Adoration

   The Olympics is a celebration of the human condition...showcased on a world stage, by those that would claim a unique banner...but share the same classification: human.

   I absolutely love watching the Olympics. I guess “watching” isn’t quite accurate, I see myself as an active participant in the emotion of it all. The Olympics revives the young athlete in me and sets fire to an inner national pride that leaves me screaming for the home team...but also for the individual achievement of a fellow human being not too far removed from my own circumstance.

Oscar Pistorius
The human condition is that which all of us participate in, either by choice or unwillingly simply because of the fact that we are all human. What has been experienced by one human that cannot be empathized by another through a similar experience? Nothing. There is someone, sometime, that has experienced a similar circumstance, and certainly that has felt a profound emotion related to that circumstance. Enter the Olympics...where we are not just entertained by the sport of it all, but share in the celebration of our humanity.

Kirani James
Look at the story of Oscar Pistorius and witness the human condition. A man with double below-knee amputations and aspirations to compete in the Olympic Games against able-bodied athletes. A story of turning a disadvantage into an opportunity is not new...and no less inspiring with it’s telling. There were forces that rose to crush Oscar’s dream, but Oscar would have none of that and persevered, realizing his goal. As children, many of us were told that the sky was the limit to our dreams and that we could do and become anything we wanted to be. Witness what happens when we never let go of that encouragement.

   Kirani James is the first person from his country of Grenada to
win an Olympic medal. His story does not come with tragedy, but instead the capitalization of birth given gifts. At just 19 years old, he is an Olympic champion. Most would say he is an exception to the human condition, but I say he is the rule. I say everyone is born with a gift of some type and those that make the mark Kirani has are simply the ones that have uncovered and nurtured that pursuit of a dream. It was a special moment at the end of the 400m semi-final when James exchanged name tags with Pistorius...another display of the human condition: respect.

Felix Sanchez
   Felix Sanchez is a two time Olympic gold medalist in the 400m hurdles...winning in Athens 2004 and London 2012. Both medals came with the exact same winning time of 47.63 seconds. At eight years apart, Sanchez, 34 at the time, is the oldest man to win the Olympic 400m title. How many times has it been said that someone is too old to accomplish something? How many times has age overcome our desires for certain goals. It happens, and nothing we can do can stop the aging process...but with hard work and determination, some things thought undoable can be done. Sanchez did it. I watched that race, and I saw Sanchez pull a picture of him and his grandmother from under his uniform...and break down. Loss and sorrow will touch all of’s a staple of being human. Felix channeled those feelings for achievement. How many hearts became one in that golden moment?

Michael Phelps
Anyone watching these Olympic games would be hard pressed to sincerely say they have no idea who Michael Phelps and Usain Bolt are. Usain Bolt is the best sprinter of all time...and Phelps is the greatest Olympian ever. Both are a testament to what can be accomplished when limitations are just imaginary boundaries crushed by the reality of the human condition. Both are just the highlights though.

   The human condition are what the Olympics are all about. Everyone has a story someone else can relate to. Just being at the games is a celebration of accomplishment for the athletes involved...and our viewership is the extended after-party wherein we all share in the festivities of our humanity.