Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Movie Review: “The Equalizer” 

   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: 

Denzel Washington is one of the biggest names around and at 59 years old, he is showing that he still can pack the theater and deliver on the silver screen. Taking on the role of Robert McCall from the television series “The Equalizer,” he sells himself as a man dealing with loss, but a complete servant to his nature to do what’s right by helping people in need.

   Marton Csokas is the antagonist in the film playing a Russian enforcer, the kind called in when things have gotten really bad, and need to be permanently fixed. He also sells his role delivering a character that sends chills down your spins as you never know what he’s going tot do next….but you know it’s going to be bad.

   The interaction between these two was tense and very interesting as I watched them take a measure of each other, while I was taking a measure of them both trying to figure out the standard they were using for each other. It’s always interesting to see the cat and mouse game being played by two cats.

The Plot: 
   Robert MCall is a simple man that lives alone, goes to work, and likes to read books. He has something of a compulsive disorder, but he also has a big heart as he is always willing to help his fellow workers. With all that, there is certainly something more to him that lies just beneath the surface.

   Unable to sleep at night, he frequents a twenty-four hour diner where he regularly, but in a very controlled way, interacts with a local hooker called Teri. Always encouraging others, one night Teri breaks protocol to interact with Robert more profoundly. It’s here we learn a bit more about him and that he is a man suffering from the loss of his wife.

   While walking Teri home, a couple of Russian men intercept them and take Teri away. Robert continues his regimented lifestyle, but can’t shake the feeling that something bad has happened to Teri.

      One night when he goes to the diner, the bartender tells him that Teri is in the hospital and has been beaten up very badly. Robert goes to see her and extracts some information from one of her fellow associates about the exact nature of the business they are forced to be a part of. Robert decides to do something about it.

   What follows is a riveting and tense look at the other side of Robert, a side we are shown throughout the film, but not nearly as intense as what he is called on to do to extract Teri from her service to the Russian mob…by eliminating their entire East Coast hub.

The Verdict: 

   First, I gotta say that as a lifelong resident of Boston, it’s always exciting to see my city on the silver screen. Recognizing the places and noticing the way they film to make the city look bigger than it really is amuses me to no end.

   This film is very story driven and it slowly builds, but never seems to come to a head equal to the buildup. The action was very intense and meticulous and I enjoyed the attention to violent detail both for the hero of the film, and the villain.

   That said, this film could have been a two hour premier of a television series (sans some of the graphic nature of the violence) and that is due mostly to the overall pace of the film. I liked the fact that Robert’s exact military  and/or agency past was never revealed. We know he is good at what he does, perhaps even the very best as eluded to in a scene where it’s queued up like he needs help, but in actuality, he is simply looking for permission to unleash holy hell. 

   I very much enjoyed how every book Robert read was analogous to how he lived his life. Well, they only revealed one book and the plot of another, but both were exactly what and who he was…a knight living in a time where knights don’t exist anymore, and an old man that has to be true to his nature and face one go the greatest adversaries of his life…at a time when he thought such things were past him.

   Despite the feel that this film wasn’t as “big” as it could have been, instead focusing more on story and character development, it still killed three and a half cinnamon sticks, out of five, in my cup of tea…equating to a very good film.

Rating 3.5/5

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Zor and Zam

   Okay I’ll admit it…I’m a Monkees fan. I’ve been a fan since I was a child and exposure to other music genres and the experiences I’ve had in my life over the last thirty years has not change that fact. Even today, I enjoy the melodies and find many of the lyrics to still have relevance. 
   Recently I listened to a song called Zor and Zam and it got me thinking about the application of the point of the song if applied today…in real life. I mean, what would happen if everyone today did what everyone in the song did?

   Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for anarchy or revolution, I’m just thinking out loud about what the enforcement of the will of the people would look like if we collectively woke up all at once. Of course it’s a pipe dream (as in you have to be smoking the wacky tabacky) to think it could ever happen. Such an undertaking would have to be worldwide, and we can’t even come to one accord in this country, never mind the entire world.

   I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me rewind and clarify the point of the song by taking a look at the lyrics:

The king of Zor, he called for war
And the king of Zam, he answered.
They fashioned their weapons one upon one
Ton upon ton, they called for war at the rise of the sun.

Out went the call to one and to all
That echoed and rolled like the thunder.
Trumpets and drums, roar upon roar
More upon more.
Rolling the call of "Come now to war."

Throughout the night they fashioned their might
With right on the side of the mighty.
They puzzled their minds plan upon plan
Man upon man
And at dying of dawn the great war began.

They met on the battlefield banner in hand.
They looked out across the vacant land.
And they counted the missing, one upon one,
None upon none.
The war it was over before it begun.

Two little kings playing a game.
They gave a war and nobody came.
And nobody came.
And nobody came.
And nobody came.
And nobody came.

   So the long and short of it is two kings called for war, and the people told them to pound sand. It sounds simplistic, but I hear a whole lot more when I listen to the song and see a whole lot more when I read the lyrics.
   I see people taking back the political system by showing up and voting in people that don’t belong to either of the two main political parties. I see solidarity to correct the plague that has become police brutality. I see people taking back their health and showing the medical “industry” that health isn’t about making money but taking care of each other. I see people not always looking at those things that make us different as a way to divide us, but looking at those things we have in common to unite us.

   Maybe I’m looking too hard and seeing too much, but I know things don’t have to stay the way they are and with a little courage to stand up to Zor and Zam, things could not only be different…but better!

   Think about it…then be about it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

I Need Money

   “I need money”…no doubt a phrase uttered by nearly everyone at some time in their life (of course there will always be those few exceptions…bless their hearts). I hear that phrase more and more these days and I’m not sure if it’s due to the economy, or just a personal desire to simply have more. What I am sure of is that anyone pursuing this need to the exclusion of all else has, or will be having, some other important issues very soon (notwithstanding any issues making is necessary for the pursuit to begin with).
   With the economy the way it is, more and more people seem to be in need of more work than is available. At least, that’s how it looks at times. I know folks that have three and four jobs…and looking for another! Let me be clear, my hope is for anyone needing money can find work to get it. Heck, I have a good job and still think I need more money (who doesn’t…really?).

      This post isn’t about our troubled economy (and even if you’re one of the few not having trouble with it, you can be sure others are). This post isn’t about those most in need (although there can never be too much attention on the issue, the quick solution remains our own acts of humanity). No, this post is about those of us that feel this “need” while not recognizing we are filling it, and the detrimental effects of this ignorance.

      I can’t imagine having to work every day of the week…as a permanent schedule. I know some people somewhere have to do it, but I also know there are people doing it, that really don’t have to. Now I chase the dollar as much as the next person (well…obviously, not really), but I also realize that somewhere in this equation I have to factor in my mental health and the time needed for the rest of life that happens outside of work.

      I’ve often contemplated the life of a child that has a parent (or should I now be saying “parents” since both parents having to work has become the staple of our economic times?) working so much that they hardly have any memories of any quality time spent with those they love. Which is greater, the financial gains made or the personal investment lost? I’ve always felt that time is the most precious commodity we have and the proper use of it is the wisest thing we can do. How many parents now regret not spending more time with their children while they were growing up? How many realize they were blinded by their need for money, although they had enough to really cover the “needs?”
   Sometimes we confuse “need” with “want” and other times there is no confusion at all. We simply want and then justify our actions (constantly working) by framing the narrative with “need.”

      This post is meant to reach out to those people that are either confused or just fooling themselves because once time has passed you by, you can’t go back for a do-over. Constant work is personally unhealthy and socially irresponsible for the family. Why set yourself up to be one of those people looking back on your life with regret? And if you are destined to be such, why have this particular issue as one of them?

      We all need money…but life doesn’t start and end with that need, and we shouldn’t make everything in between all about money. Message delivered.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Pass the Smelling Salt

   Sometimes I sit in amazement at some of the things I observe, that seem to go unnoticed by others. It’s not that I’m privy to some secret information or am digging deeply for revelations, but just observing what is blatantly touted in front of us all. 

   Perhaps I’m not the one making any sense, but when I look at the television and see some of the commercials or campaign ads, I have to laugh because there is no way I can take it seriously. Then I shudder because I know there are some out there, many in fact, that take it very seriously…and that’s very scary.

   Let me discuss a scenario and see if you can relate. A campaign ad comes on for a guy running for office in New Hampshire. This guy ran for the same office in Massachusetts, but upon not getting elected, picked up and moved to New Hampshire to try it again. Umm…is it me or does this scream insincerity and simply a yearning to just be in office? I mean, before you were for the people of Massachusetts, fighting for their best interests. Now you are standing up for the people of New Hampshire? Methinks the only person you care about is yourself and you will be for whomever you think will vote for you. 

   The sad part is there are other ads that point this out…and yet there are people still thinking their candidate actually cares about them. I got news for you; if he loses he will care about you as much as he cared about those he said he was with before you (wink, wink). 

   How about those commercials from these law firms offering their service if you or a loved one have been injured (or in the loved one’s case, killed) by a prescription medicine? I mean…really? These are the exact same medicines that were in a commercial a few months ago wherein the announcer lists a plethora of side effects, often much worse than the actual condition the medication is supposed to address.

   I mean….really. How obvious is it that we shouldn't be taking these poisonous excuses for making money for the pharmaceutical industry, doctors…and now the lawyers. Can someone please pass the smelling salt because there is a large segment of the population that really needs to wake up!

   They say if you want to hide something, put it in plain sight and watch how it disappears from view. This is proven true with every commercial and campaign ad that crosses your television screen. It goes unnoticed while planting the subliminal seed that ensures you grow up to be a good little sheep. How much would we all really grow if we actually paid attention to the idiocy being presented to us like the best thing since individually wrapped cheese slices? I stopped feeling bad for people that were displeased with their candidate or in a bad way from their medication, because at this late stage of the game, you should know the rules and understand that you will never win until you play a different game.

   I’m tired of the fix being in and refuse to play along, thus…this is me, winning. As I now pass the smelling salt to you, I invite you to join me in waking up to a well-deserved win. Breathe deeply…