Saturday, September 29, 2012

Movie Review: “End of Watch”

   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 has come a long way from his days as Donny Darko. He is very convincing as Officer Brian Taylor, and ex-Marine completely submerged in his job, while at the same time committed to a film project for his continuing education. Michael Peña exhibits true star quality in this film as Officer Mike Zavala, a street punk turned police officer at the direction of his childhood girlfriend, now wife, vested in his marriage and family life...with a genuine desire to make a difference.

The Plot:

   Officer Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Officer Zavala (Peña) are in the thick of it. Patrolling the mean streets of L.A., every patrol is one adventure after the other...and gunfire is a common occurrence. 

   Taylor is filming their shifts with hidden cameras for a film project, often narrating the action. A call of a man harassing a mailman leads to a fight between the man and Officer Zavala, which Zavala wins...but doesn’t report per the terms of the engagement. This earns Zavala the respect of the man, a reputed gang member, and leads to an ominous warning later on in the film.

   A noise disturbance call leads to their first confrontation with Big Evil, unbeknownst to them, a Cartel operative. Taylor later decides to make a “routine” traffic stop after staking out Big Evil’s house, yielding gold plated guns and loads of cash. This encounter sets the stage for a series of other events...that eventually lead to the Cartel placing a bounty on both officers.

   Big Evil, ordered to handle the problem of be handled, sets up an elaborate trap for the officers and sets them on an unalterable course with destiny.

The Verdict: 

   The first thing that sets this movie apart from others is the cinematography. The film is primarily seen from the camera point of view of the cameras Taylor uses to film his job. This approach is not overused and well done as it adds a certain realism to the film, making it very edgy.

   The second thing that makes this film stand out is the superb acting of Gyllenhaal and Peña. It’s not so much the fact that the deliver Oscar performances, but the onscreen chemistry between them just has to be real. These men, from two very different cultures, are brothers that have immersed themselves in the life of the other...and it only adds to the overall delivery of the twists, turns and shocks of the film.

   Lastly, the excellent script and directing kept this movie running on all cylinders and kept me pumped for the entire ride. It is heavy on drama, with gritty and suspenseful action...and the comedy is something everyone can relate to if you have a dear friend thats like family...and the banter is all love. This film spiked my tea with four spicy cinnamon sticks...out of five. Don’t miss this one.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Funky Sky Capsule

   I’m not a fan of flying. Strange perhaps, since I love roller coasters, but it is what it is. I think flying should be left to the birds (I don’t even think bats do it very well). There is something about the complete loss of control that makes flying lose it’s appeal. Even if I were the one piloting the plane, should something go wrong, I won’t sprout wings and soar among the clouds. I’m not in control of the roller coaster either...and should it go off the track, the chances of survival aren’t good. However, should it simply stop and refuse to operate, I could probably climb down or be rescued. Put a plane in that scenario, while it’s in flight....and the prognosis is still fatal. With all this self-imposed stress, I don’t need any added unpleasantness. Funny how sometimes you don’t get what you need...or what you want, at the same time. flying isn’t for me, and I consider it a personal accomplishment to have gotten on a plane this summer. It takes me a state of extreme concentration and acceptance of the possible consequences of flying to make me comfortable enough for the trip. The last thing I need is a passenger with no regard for the other passengers...or my personal battle with the statistically safest way to travel. I mean...there have been bathrooms on planes for a very long time now, and the plane wasn’t taking off or landing to prevent free movement within. So I fail to understand the need for such a deadly assault.

   I thought there were supposed to be sky marshals on the planes why wasn’t an arrest made? Wait...I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and detail the heinous crime of which I speak. So...there I am, making peace with my maker fully expecting the plane to experience terrible turbulence followed by all the horrible scenes I’ve watched in movies of planes going down...when I get punched in the nose! It’s not as bad as it was much worse! I would have loved for it to have been a fist that hit me, instead it was the digested residue of a very inconsiderate....and probably very ill (judging by the odor) passenger, breaking every public health ordinance in every state we passed through.

   You’re probably laughing right about now...but there is nothing funny about weaponized gas. Even looking back on the event months later doesn’t inspire humor at being exposed to an odor so foul, it made the magazines rumple. The ice in my ginger ale melted immediately...and my peanuts wilted. As I sat in amazement at all the chemical changes happening around me, oblivious of the slow death I was experiencing, other passengers began to get very vocal about having their life expectancy reduced by fifteen years. Some expressed a desire for the guilty party to come forward, but threats of death made this the longest of long shots.
   The insanity of it all...being trapped in a pressurized capsule, with a living devouring gas wreaking havoc without mercy. The depravity of the scene had me half expecting to turn and see the maniacal grin of the clown prince of crime (The Joker) telling me that Batman wouldn’t be in time to preserve what was left of my degenerating brain cells ceased to exist by the hundreds of thousands, with every breath. It was a nightmare, but I wasn’t on Elm Street...and if Freddie ever slept, this is what would wake him in terror. was that bad.

   My analytical mind couldn’t help but wonder what the perpetrator had eaten...alive, that then died and quickly decomposed in their stomach. I thought perhaps they came across some week old roadkill before boarding the plane, and thought “well, nobody else is eating it.” I wondered if they weren’t really a person, but an escaped science experiment designed to look like a person...and we were all guinea pigs for the next phase of warfare. All the time I spent dreading the plane going down...only to find myself wishing it would crash to end the torture.

   I wish I could say this story ended well...but it didn’t. We all inhaled, choked, gasped and swore...until it was all gone.

Friday, September 21, 2012

All About Nothing

   Occasionally I get into situations wherein my cognitive thought is somehow obscured from registering the actuality of the situation I am in. I know it sounds weird, but stay with me on this and it will all become clear...later.

   The world is a very dynamic place full of mystery and wonder. I know, it sounds like a tag line from a bad science fiction television series, but it also happens to be true. Live long enough, and you will see amazing things. It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, but in a world full of people with a tendency toward chaos...the right place and time happen more often than one would think. Alas...this isn’t the subject of this post, indeed, my use of the word “alas” would make an ample topic of discussion, but I digress.

   I was talking about the obscuring of cognitive thought...but more on that later. You see, life is such an eventful experience, it’s tough to stay focused at times. So much is happening in so little time (and when you consider the average human lifespan in comparison to the time the planet has existed...”little” is an understatement) that it becomes a task to take it all in. I don’t want to go off-topic here (although that’s virtually impossible...more on that later) but when you consider the vastness of space and time, a full life lived is less than the blink of an eye (relatively speaking).

   Speaking of relatives, ever notice how we are all more connected than we appear to be? Trace your family tree and you will find that the branches are quite vast...spiraling in so many different directions that it’s hard to not look at some random person and wonder if somehow, someway....there is a connection. It’s absolutely mind boggling and that says a lot since the mind is a very difficult thing to boggle. Well...let me retract that last statement. It’s not so difficult to boggle if you know how to do it, after all, I started this post talking about the obscuring of cognitive thought, and then continued to do it (but more on that later).

   I must be coming across as a procrastinator...I keep putting the point of all this off until later, knowing full well we are all living in a “now” society that just can’t wait. Kudos to you if you’ve made it this far in reading this post. You are an elite breed of person that probably still uses the oven over the microwave...or I’m just making wild assumptions, again. I’m actually not procrastinating, I’m orchestrating, like the conductor of a world renowned orchestra (ever wonder if they are really renowned all over the world?). Everything has been carefully planned...except for the part that wasn’t. 

   Please have patience, I’ll be done momentarily...after I begin. You see, the point I have been coming to that was always something for later...was in fact, always something now. Confused...? So was I, until it all made sense to me. If you’ve read this far, then you know what is actually going on and what this post is really about: nothing.

   Realize that I haven’t tricked you...I made my intentions clear from the title. You chose to explore and see what all the hype was about...despite my telling you from the beginning. Of course, I could be completely wrong, and this post is really about so much more than the nothing I claimed it to be...which would make me a trickster, in fact, since I led you to believe there was nothing here.

   Each person must decide for themselves the merit of this choose wisely (speaking about choices...)...more on that later.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Stuck In The Matrix...The Illusion Is Real

   The world is exactly as it seems...and not at all as it appears to be. There is a difference between what we perceive and what is projected. Very few of us may never come to the realization that deception wrapped in illusion, reheated in misdirection are the ingredients to the dish being served as truth. Fewer still will realize that this meal is being served on every level of our existence. Some look to the government and say "ah-ha!" Some look to the hierarchy of their job and say “ah-ha!” Some even look to their friends or loved ones and say “ah-ha!” How many look in the mirror though, and make the discovery of a lifetime? 

   Sometimes things just don’t seem right with the world around you, the environment you are currently in, the situation you are handling, the person you are entrusting with your heart. There are those of us that are gifted to know that when something is off...not right. Often this happens in direct contrast to how things appear...a handshake from your new friend Brutus....friendly advice from a wise and kind Serpent...a room with a balcony on the Titanic...a sudden ray of sunshine and warmth after torrential rain and incredible winds. How can you not pack a basket and have a picnic? How can you not lie under the sun and bask in the beauty of it all? How can you not realize you are simply in the eye, and when the storm returns there will be nothing left but memories? 

   The world is exactly as it seems...and not at all as it appears to be. The appearance is a illusion...a mask. It comes with assurances to the contrary, promises that it is real, denouncements to the idea that the mask is really a mask. Much effort goes into the convincing campaign...and why not? 99.9% of the time the result is success. Deception is achieved...and the believer is deceived. However, what happens to those that lift the veil and discover the truth? What happens to those that understand what can’t be seen, and see what shouldn’t be understood? What level of mastery over their environment, their situation...their selves do they achieve? What level of freedom do they attain when they discover that all they see is false...and all they perceive is real? 

   When this is fully understood, there is no mastery of environment, situation or even self. There is no freedom...just a very clear measure of the cage we inhabit. A cage with room for only one, for we came in alone...and alone we too shall leave. Fathom living in a world where the only person you can trust is the one looking back at you in the mirror. Imagine, if you can, waking up one day in such a world and not recognizing the reflection staring back at you.

    Picture being alone on a small island having to survive off the foliage and wildlife...and the trees grow coconuts filled with hemlock, and every animal you can dine on is mutated and disfigured. Unlike Tom Hanks, there are no extras to create from because you didn’t crash on this simply woke up. How do you react after wandering this tiny island and discovering a sign that reads: “Welcome to Hope...the World is Yours”...? 

  “Alone” doesn’t even begin to describe your circumstance in either scenario...and Insanity is the smallest town in the state of Madness...with a large red “X” in it reading “You are here.” This all sounds like some wild ride in the next summer blockbuster or some suck Johnny Depp movie for which he’ll get more accolades...but remember: The world is exactly as it seems...and not at all as it appears to be. 

   If the world seems to be made up of these deceptions and illusions perpetrated by masks claiming to be real people...then that is exactly what it is (at least a portion of it). When the full weight of this sinks in and the implications are seen in every facet of your existence and felt to the core of your soul...the man in the mirror becomes a stranger stranded on an island called Hope. It’s not a welcome realization...but it’s real. Sometimes hope is all we have.