Friday, February 17, 2017

What If Your Dislike For Donald Trump Is More Personal Than Political?

Anyone who is friends with me on social media and hasn't blocked, unfriended, unfollowed or muted me, probably knows I don't like Donald Trump and I'm very vocal about it. I didn't like Bernie Sanders either, but that was different. My disdain for Trump isn't so much his politics, but how much he resembles others I dislike.

Now let's be clear. Trump is a man of outrageous privilege and I could use every cliche about silver spoons and ivory towers, but the reality is, he fits every definition of privilege, but what makes him worse is, he acts on them. For every black man who has been frisked for no reason, there's a Trump type responsible. For every immigrant, who has been viewed negatively, Trump-like men are the reason. For every woman, who has felt uncomfortable, even unsafe around someone, a man like Donald Trump is the reason. And yet, this isn't the reason I don't like him.

I don't like Donald Trump, because his actions so closely resemble those of a main male figure in my life, they haunt me. Donald Trump is narcissist and while we attach many negative words, the key part isn't his ego, his confidence, his bravado, because to be honest, those are all good qualities in my mind. No, the key word in the definition of narcissist is "excessive." It's that single words that takes a person, make or female them into and transforms them from a person of action into a person of acting. They do everything in their power to show you they are superior, but at your expense.

Now, while Donald Trump is other things, clinically I believe him to fit the bill of a sociopath, it's that excessive acting that trumps, no pun intended, all the other traits. So how does this affect me? It hurts to see, because it brings up bad memories, both new and old. What hurts as much is when people tell me I'm wrong and how wonderful he is, maybe even telling me I don't understand. It's at that moment where I feel for every child who has been abused and told it was for their own good or woman who was sexually assaulted and convinced she may have brought it on herself. It's for every black person who might have thought their loose fitting sweats did actually warrant them being stopped, or that Mexican man questioning if he really did belong here. It is all those feelings of helplessness and questioning of one's self, that pain me, to even hear him speak.

Imagine growing up hearing what you can be and who you can be like, but not being impressed by that person. They hadn't achieved anything, they weren't particularly special and they treated others as stepping stones. Now, imagine that you'd been trained to view them as better than you, all because they had done things. We all do things and everything we do is special and to be told otherwise is in it's very essence political. Whether it be religion, ethnicity, race or gender, we have a set of expectations to hold ourselves to that isn't fair. Then there's Trump who desires to hold all of us to a set of expectations that he himself refuses to embrace. He even mocks them, as if standards are beneath him.

So back to my life. Quiet misogyny was something I saw every single day. Subtle racism and bigotry was always there. A life view on culture, religion and what was important in life was forced down my throat and to disagree was to show my ignorance. The "I" word is thrown around loosely, but intolerance isn't in my nature. I'm intolerant of ignorance, not because I view myself as more intelligent than most, but because I view myself as more tolerant. I realize our differences, even within our own families is what defines us, not that common bond. Trump sells his family as this picture of American ideals, but he's on his third marriage, the first two ending in abuse, both physical and mental. His children disliked him in their youth, but favor him now, because of the privilege he's bestowed upon them and his youngest two children I view as forgotten souls. Criticized for their smirks, not praised for their independence.

I hate Trump, because he is never wrong. If he is, he changes the subject and digs deep to find something those who question him is wrong about. If he is proven wrong, he changes the subject and become angry. He then hurts others, to remind himself of his power. It's that excessive nature and the false appearance of  some noble duty to others, all to lift himself that reminds me so much of my life and what surrounded me, that causes a physical reaction. One of repulsion, but also brings on a bit of anxiety. I see America facing my childhood, my adolescence and even my adult life. I feel like grabbing everyone I know and yelling "I know how this ends up and you don't win." I just wish I could give people a glimpse of how they're going to feel in four years.

About a year and a half ago, I dabbled with the idea of going vegan. I had realized I was no better than a housefly and I had no more reason to live than they did. I never killed spiders or mosquitoes and I'd started to get ill from eating meat. One night, while getting a glass of water, I saw a field mouse on the counter. Scared, shaking, I picked it up and brought it outside. The next morning, I felt a new confidence. I felt as if I'd saved a life and in many ways, gave mine meaning. The following morning, my father came down and had a glow to him. His chest puffed out, a little pep in his step and this pride I'd never seen before. A few seconds later, he boasted about killing a mouse and my heart sank. The next few days, every phone call, every visitor, every passerby, heard about his conquering the beast, as if it were some mythic dragon. With each telling his pride grew, the story became more grandiose and my sorrow built up and the physical pain I spoke of cut into me. It was that moment I promised I'd never kill another being, never eat one and a few months later, decided I'd not consume or wear anything that played a part in the mistreatment of another living animal,

The last story might seem out of place, but I bring you back to my first point. The word excessive. That mouse was a nuisance. That mouse was seeking refuge in a safe warm spot and the night I carried it out, it knew it had one. The following night it was dead. The sad part is, my father spoke of this for weeks and to this day, feels he not only did the right thing, but that he needed to be praised for it. You're chuckling now, because you see this as a foolish analogy, in terms of the President of the United States. Well, here's the thing. He got that praise and it grew and it grew and guess what? A year later, maybe metaphorically, I was became the mouse and he's still boasting about his kill, to whomever will listen. And the praise grows.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Strange Changes - 2017 What Have You Done To Me?

A new home. A new schedule.
New Faces. New Routines.
Old Feelings. Old Habits. No, not really.

Last Sunday, the NFL Conference Championships are on in 20 minutes and I sit on my bed, laptop on and a four year, is pointing to the screen. "Put the green one there," she says. I smile, and click the green piece and slide it over the where she asked. Click. She's right. We finish the puzzle and she begins to clap. I smile. She hugs me and tells me she loves me.

The little girl is the granddaughter of my new roommates/landlord. It's only the second time I've met her, but she's been here the entire weekend. Sports is the furthest thing from my mind. A few minutes go by and she and her two-year-old brother sit on my bed, drinking milk and eating cookies. Crumbs fall all over and they laugh when I tell them I'll get in trouble with the poppas. Oh yes, my roommates/landlords are a two men, married to each other. Every two weeks, the kids come for a visit. It's a welcome change. So I sit, watching these two children get ready to leave. We say our goodbyes and I return to my room, realizing I've missed all of the first quarter of one of the biggest games of the year.  At that moment, I'm fine with this.

Three years ago, I'd have been at the bar since 1PM, convincing myself I needed to drink for three hours to save my seat. I'd sit with a bunch of friends, acquaintances, fellow fans and watch the seven hours of football, get drunk, scream, laugh and maybe, if lucky, win a pool. It always felt like life. It doesn't now. That was 10 of the last 13 years, maybe more. The last three, Sundays have been spent in solitude, with many being void of football. Movies have become my life, but that's where this title comes in. I've watched five movies in 2017. Normally, but this time of the month, I'd be on movie 25 or 30. My head is just not into it. It's not into anything really.

I'll skip the political distractions, although they're mighty. I've felt insecurity recently and I'm realizing that all those scientists, philosophers and lawmakers we calling (Founding) Fathers were right. We all have basic needs that must be met if we are to assimilate into "normal" creatures. I once thought I was a normal creature, but I realize now, I just found others like me, who hadn't really found that thing they needed. I'm alone now, even with the occasional laughter of children or the hello and goodbye of my housemates. I sit alone. I eat alone. I think alone. I sleep alone. I do everything alone. With the exception of my cat, Swag, whom I've come to realize is more in tune with my emotions that any human I've ever known, I'm alone. I'm not complaining really, because I've always gravitated towards a certain level of solitude, but there's a catch. I hope some philosopher has said it better and feel free to share any that have, but I've come to realize one great secret of life..

Loneliness is simply solitude, we haven't chosen on our own terms.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Uncertainty In A New Home

I will not replay my sob story, but I am in a new home. It doesn't feel like my home, because it is not. It is another's home. A couple, who despite this being a new home to them, have allowed me to rent a room. Now let's be clear, the room is not a cell. It is not like the place where I was over a week ago. There is no knock on the door from housekeeping, nor is there a revolving door of neighbors. There are constants. That alone should give me comfort and yet it does not.

My insomnia has returned, but I've also slept better than in the past. I am comfortable walking to the kitchen in my underwear, but uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel a weight lifted from my chest, but know it's only been lifted, not removed. My days, oddly, haven't changed, other than the hours in which I do things. I went from being one schedule to another. The only difference is that this one is personal courtesy and at the end of the day, it is my choice.

Over the last few weeks, I've been told "It'll get better," "Things will work out," and "I'm praying for you." All kind words, which blow by me like the air from an oscillating fan. They comfort and console me and then they are gone, the next wave, never far behind. They say we control our own destiny, but I've learned over the years, we only control our selfish acts. We have absolutely no control over the actions of others or nature, and yes, I know, that is called life.

I think where the anxiety, depression and overall uncertainty comes from knowing this place isn't permanent. Most likely, I won't even be here when 2018 rolls around, but the real question is, where will I be? What could possibly happen in six month that the last decade and a half of misfortune, bad choices and lackadaisical approach towards life will be reversed? I'm trying so hard to set up a safety net, while others set up their nest eggs. I tried to accept and appreciate what I have and you know what? I do. I realize every day and I'm reminded even more, that it could be worse, but there lies another of life's lessons. "It could be worse," doesn't make it better. It just makes us appreciate less, set the bar lower and accept our fate.

The irony is, I don't want more than I have. I just want it  without the constant fear of losing it. I want shelter, food and protection from the elements. I want a connection that doesn't need to be plugged in. I want to wake up in the morning, without spending most of the day worrying about tomorrow. I don't want riches or things to distract me, I just want a life without worry. I want to wake up one morning and think, this is MY home, for as long as I wish it to be. Isn't that life too?

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Movies of 2016

The movies of 2016
  1. Joyeux Noel - A beautiful true story, hurt by over-dramatization. Still works on some levels.
  2. A Pigeon Sat On a Branch Reflecting About Its Existence - Dreadful in every way.
  3. Cracks - Aside from a lovely to look at cast, the movie fails to deliver, Eva Green though.
  4. Monster - Korean crime thriller fails, due to too many undeveloped characters.
  5. Making a Murderer - Poorly done, but makes its point. About 8 hours too long.
  6. Sicario - Del Toro is the real gem, but Blunt takes nothing and makes magic. Great film!
  7. Silenced - Korean film about real life horror at school for the deaf. Well done, but horrifying.
  8. Experimenter - Silly biopic about Milgram's obedience testing. Stumbles from start to finish.
  9. Pay The Ghost - Nic Cage horror flick. Works, for about an hour, but then unravels horribly.
  10. Unfriended - Might actually be worse than The Gallows and Willow Creek. Awful!
  11. Slow West - Good, not great, but fine acting make this "foreign" western a fun ride.
  12. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl - Napoleon Dynamite meets Terms of Endearment. Solid!
  13. Sheitan - Sexy women, creepy atmosphere and Vincent Cassel can't make up for lack of story.
  14. When Animals Dream - Shockingly good, beautifully shot Danish horror film. Overly subtle.
  15. Early Spring - Ozu's look at infidelity. My least favorite so far, but Ikebe shines as wife.
  16. The Kids Are Alright - Wonderful, up until the final twenty minutes and then unravels.
  17. Far From The Madding Crowd - Wonderful cast can't save a poorly constructed adaptation.
  18. Learning to Drive - Good not great. Simple. Clarkson is great as always, but script is lacking.
  19. World of Tomorrow - Oscar nominated short. Take time to let this one sink in, it's fabulous. 
  20. Cub - Belgian horror borrows from many classics, but has an air of originality. Well done.
  21. Sharknado 3 - Awful in every way. This series has finally jumped the, no, just no.
  22. The Blind Swordsman; Zatoichi - First Takeshi Kitano movie I've ever hated. So dull. 
  23. Le Samourai - Stylish noir, limits acting and is all about aesthetics. Inspired, but dull...Classic?
  24. The Assassin - Pretty to look at, but a complete bore. Could have easily been 30 minutes long.
  25. True Detective Season 2 - The writing is so bad, you forget the decent performances.
  26. Far From Heaven - Haynes' visual feast is hurt by Quaid's sleepwalking, despite stellar Moore.
  27. Nurse (3-D) - Aside from scantily clad beauties, this is a sad attempt at sexploitation.
  28. Flu - Korean thriller about avian flu. Forty minutes of editing could have made this a gem. 
  29. Last Year At Marienbad - Artsy puzzler with no payoff. Thankfully, it's much richer than that.
  30. Rome, Open City - Rossellini's war film has highs and lows, but the end to both parts. Wow!
  31. Wake In Fright - Cult classic that doesn't live up to the rep. Pleasance is brilliant, but that's it. 
  32. Hard To Be A God - Epic, but is it great. Hardest movie you'll ever judge. Gruesome and bold. 
  33. Days of Heaven - Malick's stunning look at life and love on the run. Style trumps substance.
  34. The Visit - Shamalyan's dud, never works on any level other than humorous rapping, 
  35. Persepolis - Animated coming of age story works well, despite some serious lags.
  36. Tokyo Chorus - 1931 silent Ozu, works common tale into something special. Poignant 10x.
  37. Ip Man - Wonderful action and solid acting, lift this above most of it's kind. 
  38. The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya - Frustrating dialogue and overly long. Don't see the allure.
  39. The Coed And The Zombie Stoner - Yes, the film lives up to it's name. Watched in FF.
  40. The Walk - Possibly the worst acting I've ever seen in a major film. Gordon-Levitt is awful.
  41. Come Drink With Me - Classic Shaw Brothers, starts strong, but fades. Solid leads.
  42. Gummo - Harmony Korine's odd tale of small town America. Odd isn't the word, but it works.
  43. Tsotsi - South African gang member inadvertently steals baby. Moving and powerful. 
  44. The Krays (re-watched) - Still holds up, but much more style than substance. Whitelaw is A+.
  45. Lawless - Superb cast plays it low key. Incredible first hour gives way to lackluster second.
  46. Hiroshima Mon Amour - Complex beyond description, yet so simple in its beauty. Masterpiece
  47. 99 Homes - Despite a great director, cast and plot, the film fails on every level. Awful.
  48. Straight Outta Compton - N.W.A. biopic is much better than expected, with stellar Cube. 
  49. Hellicon - Nice looking B-horror, makes you want to like it, but last 30 minutes it falls apart.
  50. A Touch Of Sin - I don't understand the accolades. Aside from one vignette, very boring.
  51. About Elly - My third Farhadi film. Absolutely wonderful, as simple story unfolds into chaos.
  52. Tokyo Gore Police - Dreadful, but I can see the allure. Surprisingly tame, despite title.
  53. The Martian - Pleasant surprise. Hollywood, but without the silly subplots. Simple and funny.
  54. Entertainment - Epically bad. Comedy's version of Frank fails every which way.
  55. Beasts of No Nation - Despite some potholes, incredible leads, with Abraham Attah shining.
  56. Backcountry - Cocky urban campers meet black bear. Hooray bear!
  57. Somers Town - Shane Meadows look at two kids liking same girl. Cute, but no depth.
  58. Black Coal, Thin Ice - Korean crime thriller starts off strong and completely loses its way. 
  59. The Nightmare - Documentary? A complete nightmare and not in a good way.
  60. Cries and Whispers - Bergman's Colorful look into women's minds. Not his best, but so what?
  61. Room - Cliche driven, poorly written script can't be saved by wonderful acting. 
  62. Bedevilled - Korean drama/horror works in many ways, but that ending really bothered me.
  63. Captain America: The Winter Soldier - shockingly bad, after solid first film. 
  64. The Trial - Welles' adaptation of Kafka novel as metaphor for Nazi Germany. Perkins shines.
  65. Last Shift - Underrated horror flick, with very solid performance by star and unnerving tension.
  66. Indigenous - Panama Jungle meets The Descent. Yep! Aside from good looking women, a dud.
  67. Criminal Minds: Season 9 - Repetitive, but character development and chemistry is its charm.
  68. Macbeth - Poorly adapted script and too much scenery, makes play lose all play quality.
  69. Crimson Peak - First complete letdown from Del Toro. One of the worst movies I've ever seen.
  70. Hannibal Buress: Comedy Camisado - Very slow start, but the last 20 minutes is hilarious. 
  71. The Tribe - Sign language...no subtitles. One of the most bizarre films ever. Troubling.
  72. Up - Emotionally charged for Pixar film, but the guts of it were lacking. 
  73. Memories of the Sword - Typical plot in genre, but stunningly beautiful final 30 minutes.
  74. Black Mass - Depp's best role since Fear and Loathing, adds to strong cast delivering.
  75. The Big Short - One of the finest adapted screenplays ever. Funny, brilliant and true - scary.
  76. Dead Friend (The Ghost) - Korean horror lacks rhythm. The frenetic ending doesn't work.
  77. Carol - Todd Haynes directs Blanchett and Mara to near perfection. Subtle power!
  78. Trumbo - Couldn't finish. Arguably one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Cranston is awful.
  79. Mine Games - Silly never-ending twist, with pretty people doing dumb things.
  80. Avalanche Sharks - Absolutely idiotic, but some truly funny lines, especially towards the end. 
  81. Floating Weeds - Ozu remakes his own and excels in using color to bring it to life.
  82. He Never Died - Henry Rollins as Cain. Sounds interesting and it is, for about 15 minutes.
  83. Twenty-Four Eyes - Japanese tale of teacher's effect on children and theirs on her. Powerful.
  84. Spotlight - Oscar winner delivers, but few too many soft touches, where I wanted more. 
  85. Black House - Korean horror takes over an hour to deliver any chills. Waste of time.
  86. Captive - Mara and Oyelowo do their best, but they are working with a thin plan. Fails!
  87. Stranger By The Lake - French erotic thriller, with lots of gay sex and very little plot. Dud!
  88. Suffragette - Starts solidly, but falls apart. No passion from female director and writer.
  89. Circle - Clever horror/thriller takes serious look at prejudice, with possibly bigger implications.
  90. The Hateful Eight - Tarantino's worst movie to date and a complete clunker. Zero good to say.
  91. Legend - Tom Hardy plays dual role as the Kray Brothers. Needed more Browning and mum.
  92. Cowspiracy - Solid, frustrating documentary that looks at the food industries scary power.
  93. Bridge Of Spies - Hanks' best role since Big, but movie loses steam trying to appeal to masses.
  94. Vegucated - Funny, thoughtful look at the importance of convincing people to go vegan.
  95. The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie - Style over substance is influential, but club scenes drag.
  96. The Exterminating Angel - Bunuel's look at upper class fragility and the results. Fascinating!
  97. The End Of Summer - Ozu's penultimate film, is funny, charming and ends beautifully.
  98. The Hallow - Truly horrible, but distracted by beautiful co-star.
  99. Chi-Raq - Spike Lee combines Do The Right Thing with School Daze and Greek tragedy.
  100. Steve Jobs - Fassbender, co-stars, direction and cinematography are A-plus. Best of 2015.
  101. Almost Mercy - Need some humor and misses the mark consistently, but solid lead.
  102. The Conspiracy - Great idea, solid start and then becomes a cheap ambiguous mess.
  103. A Woman Under The Influence - Cassavetes' masterpiece. Rowlands and Falk are superb.
  104. The Forest - Great premise and decent acting can't save this disaster. Awful. 
  105. Brooklyn - Saoirse Ronan shines, but movie lacks drama. Cute story, but expected more.
  106. Hush - So many plot holes and errors, but charismatic lead makes it worthwhile. 
  107. Gertrud - Dreyer's last didn't work for me at all. Sight and Sound has it in their top 50.
  108. The Brood - Early Cronenberg is dated and silly, missing all marks in big spots.
  109. Pather Panchali - One of the most aesthetically pleasing black and white films ever. Emotional!
  110. Asian Schoolgirls - Was told it was a gory action film, rivaling horror. It's pure exploitation.
  111. Sunshine - Boyle's sci-fi film publicly hailed for accuracy, but accuracy doesn't mean it's good.
  112. No Regrets For Our Youth - Kurosawa directs. Hara stars and gives the an epic performance.
  113. The Secret Rules Of Modern Living: Algorithms - Fun. Starts of great, but fizzles out. 
  114. God's Pocket - Looks good on paper, but it's bad from start to finish. PSH's last. A shame.
  115. Dream Home - Chinese slasher that makes up for silly plot with amazing violence and gore.
  116. Shoah - The most important documentary of all-time. Long, painful, but heart wrenching. 
  117. In The Heart Of The Sea - Horrible in every way. When was the last time Howard shined?
  118. Tiny Homes House Hunters - Silly, but some cool houses. 
  119. Son Of Saul - Auschwitz from almost a found footage style. Cinematic Masterpiece.
  120. Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Truly horrible in every way, but script and acting is atrocious.
  121. Philomena - Dench and Coogan's chemistry shines in this hilariously poignant film. 
  122. The Club - Poorly shot and directed film about repenting priests (or not). Didn't work for me.
  123. The Girl In The Car With The Glasses And A Gun - Stylish. Hard to like; impossible to hate.
  124. Close-up - Abbas Kiarostami's masterpiece is what docufiction should be. Left me speechless.
  125. The Traveler - Kiarostami's first. A boy experiences life. Surpasses 400 Blows in my opinion.
  126. The Lady In The Van - Despite Maggie Smith's presence, you never feel it. Awful last half.
  127. L'Eclisse - Antonioni's third part of "Trilogy," doesn't work at all, yet is revered as a top film.
  128. A Day In The Country - Renoir's 40 minute short is almost perfect, but feels like a feature.
  129. Ugetsu - Mizoguchi's feels as if the ending was made for the West at end, despite beauty.
  130. Taste of Cherry - Kiarostami's Cannes success is wonderfully simple, until that ending.
  131. They Look Like People - Microbudget horror, offensive in its depiction of mental illness.
  132. Zoombies - Zombie zoo, but these are endangered species. It's as bad as it sounds.
  133. The Revenant - Absolutely awful. Iranittu's ego is all we feel. The visuals, we've seen before.
  134. The Witch - Borders on greatness and rubbish. The final two scenes are unnecessary. 
  135. Mustang - Turkish coming-of-age story about five sisters. Painful at times, but beautiful.
  136. Samsara - Easily one of the greatest documentaries. Beautiful, no dialogue, but says so much.
  137. Beyond The Black Rainbow - Tries so hard to be special, but feels like an 80's gimmick.
  138. Alleluia - French horror love story, delivers with great acting and vicious violence. Very good.
  139. Pickpocket -Bresson's tale of a petty thief is revered for things I don't believe were intended.
  140. Frozen - Disney failure. Feels at times like an anti-feminist film, then bails at the end.
  141. Playtime - Tati's visual feast, left me hungry. Silly monotony, felt like a bad Monty Python skit.
  142. Felt - Billed as horror, this sad drama about dealing with rape is odd, but effective.
  143. Beau Travail - This simple story feels like a complex dream in Claire Denis' hands. Brilliant!
  144. Krampus - Silly, funny at times, but definitely a failure as a horror film. 
  145. The Danish Girl - Vikander stands out in a miss-the-mark fictional twist on interesting story.
  146. Extraordinary Tales - Animated Poe Anthology is so good on paper, but never translates.
  147. Deadpool - Overhyped, silly, with some very funny moments, but the film is rather boring.
  148. Emelie - It's not perfect, but it's what horror should be. Tense, uncomfortable and exciting.
  149. Anomalisa - Charlie Kaufman strikes again. The film resonates, but lacks something in the end.
  150. Joy - Arguably the worst script ever written. The movie manages to fail in every way possible. 
  151. The Battle Of Algiers - Content could be debated, but the look and sound is impeccable.
  152. 10 Cloverfield Lane - Obvious, silly and boring, but surprisingly well acted. A waste of time.
  153. 45 Years - Courtnay and Rampling are stellar. A film that you really need to allow to set in.
  154. Welcome to Leith - Disturbing tale of domestic terror in small town USA. 
  155. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - Much better than the title would suggest, with stellar James.
  156. World Of Tomorrow - re-watched. One of the best, most thought provoking short film ever.
  157. Drag Me To Hell - Horribly predictable yarn, with decent lead let down by everything about it.
  158. A War - Strong start turns into boring courtroom drama and loses focus trying to be powerful.
  159. Naked - Brilliant acting enhances dire tale, which goes from typical to brilliant to typical.
  160. Santa Sangre - All style, little substance. Beautifully odd, but so wooden and overly long.
  161. Knight Of Cups - Malick channels Fellini and maybe enhances 8 1/2. Bale and Co shine!
  162. Intolerance - D.W. Griffith's film is 100 years old and it resonates as much now as ever.
  163. Shark Lake - Makes Avalanche Sharks look like Jaws, but hey Dolph Lundgren and Sara Lane.
  164. The Boy - Solid 80 minutes, followed by complete unraveling. Great lead, but little else.
  165. Fastball - Recycled stories leave real fans wanting more. Newcomers and kids will love it.
  166. Death By Hanging - Oshima's use of comedy allows his social commentary to zing, not sting.
  167. Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse - Very funny, but lacks horror feel. Good acting.
  168. Francofonia - On paper, a brilliant docudrama about art preservation during war. On paper!
  169. A Brighter Summer Day - A very simple story, enhanced by it's beauty. Four quick hours.
  170. The Girl In The Photographs - As bad as a horror movie can get. An all-time dud.
  171. I'm A Cyborg, But That's OK - Surreal look at mental illness, is scattered, but works.
  172. Bill Cunningham New York - Funny, touching and possibly even deep. He was NYC fashion!
  173. Hail, Caesar! - Coen Bros. offer an homage to post-war Hollywood and nail it. Casting is A+
  174. Event Horizon - Cult Classic did nothing for me. No twists or turns and silly script. Boo!
  175. Green Room - Run-of-the-mill claustrophobic thriller. Silly script, but solid cast makes it work.
  176. Rams - Icelandic drama about two brothers, their farm and the loss of their rams. That's it. 
  177. Wrestling - Short by director of Rams. Odd homosexual tale that just feels weird.
  178. 3-Iron - A Korean film that says so much without a single word uttered by its lead.
  179. The Chaser - Haunting, depressing Korean crime thriller. Pulls zero punches. 
  180. The Last Picture Show - Either the best bad movie or the worst good movie ever made. Sam!
  181. Midnight Special - Sound and sights add to this epic effort by Nichols. Almost too much!
  182. Elvis and Nixon - Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey do what they do, strong support.
  183. The Enforcer - Re-watched. Eastwood isn't as great as I remember. Almost funny it's so bad.
  184. Sauna - Finnish horror alleged to be deep. Atmospheric, but pretty standard symbolism.
  185. Vivre Sa Vie - The segments vary in their appeal, but the ending came off campy, ruining it.
  186. Kes - Critically acclaimed, but my personal feelings about animals and kids made me hate it.
  187. A Serious Man - Coen Brothers flop! Absolutely horrible, stereotypical crap.
  188. Darling - Repulsion meets The Haunting, without the direction. Lead is excellent though.
  189. True Grit - Coen Bros almost miss with ridiculous finale, but solid acting makes it worthwhile.
  190. Fright Night - Remake doesn't work, but Poots and Collette are sure nice to look at.
  191. Good Bye Lenin! - Painfully slowly and poorly acted, but then magical fine fifteen minutes.
  192. The Lobster - Typical Lanthimos...is it good or bad? Does it matter? You can't stop thinking.
  193. The Wave - Norwegian disaster film goes the way of 70's TV movie of the week.
  194. Amer - Modern day giallo. Sensual, visually stimulating, but a bit of a snooze. Worth a look.
  195. The Hunger - 1983 Vampire flick with beautiful people, being beautiful. So wonderfully 80's.
  196. Songs My Brother Taught Me - Scenic, well-intentioned, but needed more feeling.
  197. The Terminator - Still holds up, but so many flaws, especially that synthesized score.
  198. Purple Noon - The original Mr. Ripley shines with Delon in the lead. Great fun.
  199. High-Rise - The most literal allegory ever made. Absolute rubbish, especially Evans and Irons.
  200. The Prowler - Good movie? Not really! Amazing Tom Savini SFX kills? Absolutely!
  201. A Monster With A Thousand Heads - Tense crime drama that makes it point in 70 minutes.
  202. Baskin - From Turkey, the scariest and complex horror film I've seen in quite some time.
  203. Viridiana - Bunuel's tale of a conflicted nun. The film is as subtle as a stampeding elephant.
  204. R-Point - Highly acclaimed Korean ghost story has great concept, but fails on every level.
  205. A Matter Of Life And Death - Amazing in every way. Another...how'd I never hear of this?
  206. Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice - Arguably the worst superhero movie ever made.
  207. 9 - Shane Acker turned his Oscar nominated adult animation short into a great feature
  208. 9 (Short) - Packs a little less power than the feature, but the ending gives a different feel.
  209. Sightseers - British black comedy has peaks and valleys, but early Wheatley film is good fun.
  210. Nothing Personal - A nearly perfect "love" story, with stellar Rea and Verbeek. Visuals too!
  211. Chernobyl Diaries - Fun, but vastly overrated. One scare, beautiful cast, but lacked depth.
  212. The Lost Boys - Re-watched a favorite from my youth. Still holds up for what it is. Fun 80's.
  213. The Color of Pomegranates - Visual feast, that is indescribable. Does it work as a film though?
  214. Counter Investigation - Dejardin stars in French crime thriller. Predictable, but well done.
  215. Anarchy Parlor - Decent premise lost on bad acting and silliness, but one brutal scene. 
  216. Don't Look Now - Not nearly as effective second time around, but Julie Christie was gorgeous.
  217. The Finest Hours - Makes The Perfect Storm look like Citizen Kane. Truly dreadful.
  218. Ali: Fear Eats The Soul - Filmed nicely, but not my cup of tea. Bad acting and painfully boring.
  219. Sunset Song - Best movie of 2016 so far. Agyness Deyn is mesmerizing as are her co-stars.
  220. John Dies At The End - Easily one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Dreadful!
  221. Keanu - Key & Peele's very funny, shockingly good full length feature.
  222. Bob Ross: Beauty Is Everywhere - The Netflix version of a sedative....ahhh
  223. Yi Yi - Not as a pleasant visually, but a better than A Brighter Summer Day. The kid is tops.
  224. The Happening - Easily Shyamalan's worst. Disjointed from the opening scene and gets worse.
  225. '71 - Solid beginning, but then just becomes a painfully predictable chase movie. Unoriginal!
  226. Stranger Things - Far from perfect, but one of the more fun series' I've watched in a while.
  227. Detour - 40's B-movie noir. Just over an hour and I loved it. Needs a big time remake.
  228. The Adventures of Prince Achmed - First animated film f0m 1926. Pretty, a little too rapey.
  229. I Killed My Mother - Xavier Dolan writing this at 16, is almost as amazing as the film itself.
  230. The Road - Cormac McCarthy adaptation has me wondering why I bother. Why Viggo, Why?
  231. The Square - Tense documentary. Limited in its focus, but powerful message.
  232. Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon - Brilliant idea, unravels after 30 minutes.
  233. Money Monster - Much better than I anticipated. McConnell was the standout in exciting film.
  234. Broken - Roth is great, but newcomer Eloise Laurence is the star. One of the 10 best of last 5!
  235. Exit To Hell - Kane Hodder Grindhouse film. Easily one of the worst movies ever made. 
  236. 4 Months 3 Weeks And 2 Days - Haunting, tense and remarkable. Simply, yet powerful.
  237. Bait - Shark in a grocery store. Pretty ladies, tough men and sharks. A "so bad" it's good film.
  238. Waltz With Bashir - Powerful adult animation. Beautiful score pushes it into a special category.
  239. Spider Forest - Complex story with one too many twists and way too many lulls. 
  240. A Man Escaped - Bresson's film feels drawn out, but makes Shawshank feel like Prison Break.
  241. Captain America; Civil War - Nothing new. Action action action! No real plot. 
  242. Tabu - Critically acclaimed film that put me to sleep twice. Good or bad? I can't tell you.
  243. Tim's Vermeer - Some minor flaws, but fascinating documentary about the science of painting.
  244. Everybody Street - Street photographers pictures are far more interesting than their words.
  245. 12 - Nikita Mikhalkov's adaptation of 12 Angry Men. Despite a short lull, it is magnificent.
  246. This Is Not A Film - Iranian documentary-style film about censorship. Works in an odd way.
  247. Mouchette - Cinephile card revoked. Completely unaffected by Bresson's highly revered film.
  248. Vagabond - Agnes Varda's masterpiece about the loneliness of freedom and much much more.
  249. The Neon Demon - Is it horror or an 80's video in 2016? It's greatest power is it stays with you.
  250. Les Innocents - Like a stroll through a museum, but can only be described as beautifully sad.
  251. Here Comes the Devil - Spanish Horror film that tries to encompass every genre. Odd? Good?
  252. Bound To Vengeance - Well above average rape revenge film. Two leads are amazing.
  253. Sweet Bean - Touching, simple tale about three lives that find meaning from each other.
  254. Moebius -Ki-duk Kim delivers the oddest film ever about castration, fetishes and incest. 
  255. The Shallows - If not for the lovely Blake Lively, this would be a worst movie ever candidate.
  256. The Darkness - Despite a nice cast, this fails on every level. As horror, it's a sleeper.
  257. Swiss Army Man - Dano is amazing in this hilarious and touching film, but truly awful ending.
  258. X Cross - Japanese horror that works initially, but then gets silly. Not awful, but not good.
  259. Cat People - Classic thriller/horror, uses light and sound to create wonderful tension.
  260. Devil - People stuck in elevator. Decent acting gets buried beneath silly non-twist.
  261. The Witness - Doc about Kitty Genovese detailing her brother's search for answers. Odd!
  262. The Wailing - Popular Korean thriller/horror did nothing for me. Two and a half hours of zzz!
  263. The Nice Guys - Hilarious! Crowe and Gosling have great chemistry, but Rice dazzles.
  264. Splinter - Fun horror and sometimes funny. Original, beautiful lead and good chemistry. 
  265. Summer Interlude - Early Bergman, simple, slow, but beautifully shot and great leads.
  266. Hellraiser (yes again) - Gets sillier each time, with horrid ending, but still fun.
  267. Suspiria - What it lacks in substance, it more than makes up for in style....and that music!!!
  268. The Conjuring 2 - Much better than the original, but still far from great. Solid acting though.
  269. I Saw The Devil - Rewatched and liked it even more this time. Violence that means something.
  270. It's Such A Beautiful Day - Don Hertzfeldt's stick figure movie says a lot. Almost too much.
  271. The Silenced - Well done, but lacks something. Repetitive feel makes it feel much longer.
  272. Tony - Subtle, almost sympathetic view of loner turned serial killer. Music adds to it.
  273. Them - Short horror film, that connects you to couple, then tensions builds....and builds.
  274. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003) - Awful remake, despite lovely to look at Biel. 
  275. Free State Of Jones - True story is timely social commentary. Brilliant in every way. 
  276. Nosferatu (1979) - Herzog directs Kinski. Fails to match original, but Kinski brings it 100%.
  277. The Midnight Meat Train - Clive Barker wrote it. All-Star cast. Absolutely dreadful. 
  278. Vertigo - The greatest movie ever? I'm not sure it's in Hitchcock's top ten.
  279. Lovely Molly - Swings for the fences and comes up well short, due to convoluted story.
  280. Southbound - Horror anthology held together by the thinnest of strings. Fails to deliver.
  281. Trick 'R Treat - Rewatched this classic and it was better than the first. Sam is bae!
  282. La Horde - Action packed zombie flick with tons of cliches. Americans will hate it, I didn't.
  283. I Was Born, But - Ozu's 1932 silent film plays like a Japanese Our Gang and it's wonderful.
  284. The Victim - Thai horror film has as good a first hour as any I've seen, then the puzzle begins.
  285. The Sea Of Trees - Van Sant fails, by making the most predictable movie ever made.
  286. Cold Fish - Starts off strong, but devolves into splatter film with very little to admire.
  287. Sausage Party - A 90 minutes dick joke that lost me in the first 90 seconds.
  288. Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword Of Vengeance - Part one of six is everything you could want.
  289. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart At The River Styx: Wonderful second part delivers loads
  290. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart to Hades: A tad slower than the first two, but quite good.
  291. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart In Peril - A little better than third, but still fun.
  292. Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart In The Land Of Demons: Gets back on superb starting track.
  293. Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven In Hell - Superb finale. Absolutely brilliant set.
  294. I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House - Good acting can't save it from itself.
  295. What We Become - Decent Zombie film, but lack of character development is a problem.
  296. Manhole - Korean serial killer could have been so much better, but worth a look.
  297. We Are What We Are (2013) - Dreadful remake, with Bill Sage's brooding all to blame.
  298. How I Live Now - A willingness to forget certain things adds to this well acted drama.
  299. Global Waste: The Scandal of Food Waste - well intentioned doc, fails in its delivery.
  300. Scherzo Diabolico - Horror is there, if Bogliano could get away from sex and nudity overkill.
  301. Brave - Re-watched - Liked this Disney film more the second time.
  302. The Keeping Room - Exceptional acting makes this dud watchable. Marling shines.
  303. Stitches - Clown horror that is neither funny or horror. It's silly. 
  304. The Naked Prey - The lack of any true message hurts, but it's an intense ride.
  305. Colin Quinn: The New York Story - Easily the best standup in the past few years.
  306. Chronicles Of Evil - Korean crime thriller that delivers. First film in a while to shock me.
  307. The Duke Of Burgundy - It's beautiful and erotic, but it's so repetitive, it's hard to finish.
  308. High Lane - Beautiful people go hiking. All hell breaks loose. Tense and lovely scenery.
  309. The House Of Small Cubes - 12 minute Oscar winning short film. Absolutely perfect!
  310. Meridian - Short film that might be the worst thing I've watched in 2016
  311. Walt Disney Animated Short Collection - Wonderful with Paperman and The Little Match Girl!
  312. Goodbye To Language - Sorry Godard, but this is freshman philosophy and film. Why?
  313. Kathleen Madigan: Bothering Jesus - Hilarious at times, with a calm delivery. Refreshing.
  314. The Last King - Beautiful, but drags at times. Solid performances and great almost mythic tale.
  315. A Christmas Horror Story - Wonderful elves can't save Santa in this one.
  316. Black Souls - The movie might not resonate, but La Cosa Nostra has nothing on Ndrangheta.
  317. Department Q: The Keeper Of Lose Souls - With hints of GWTDT, this one is riveting.
  318. Department Q: The Absent One - Doesn't reach part one, but wow, what a follow-up.
  319. Department Q: A Conspiracy of Faith - Amazing finale. Left me wanting ten more films/
  320. The Jungle Book - Feels longer than it is, but the laughs and heart string tugs work for adults.
  321. Compulsion - Based on Leopold & Loeb, Welles shines, making us question an eye of an eye.
  322. Happy - A documentary about being happy. Starts strong, but then becomes a little too preachy.
  323. Silent - Best animated movie under three minutes ever. No joke. It's brilliant.
  324. The African Queen - Re-watched an old favorite after many years. Bogey and Hepburn! 
  325. I Am Not A Serial Killer - Great idea, with awful twist ending, is unbearably boring.
  326. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - Revered in Brazil, but it's a simple, played out plot.
  327. Journey To The West - A little long-winded, but beautifully shot, great fun and epic tale.
  328. Killswitch - Documentary on Net Neutrality. Nothing new, but concise. Could change minds.
  329. Sendero - Silly wrong turn tale, which borders on being good, but the dumb victims ruin it.
  330. Avenged - If not for laugh out loud bad script-writing, this one excels for a rape revenge film. 
  331. Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie - Silly cartoon segue, but seeing all these classics was fun.
  332. A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) 1951 - Alistair Sim is Scrooge. Wonderful and touching.
  333. The Thin Man - Powell dazzles, but Loy controls the film. Hammett's writing shines through.
  334. Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things - While I agree, this film fails!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Mom Would Have Been 75 Today

January 13th, 1942



While I would not be born until 1970, this is perhaps the date that had the greatest impact on my life. My mother's birth and the life that followed, its highs and lows, its pleasures and its pains, created the person who taught me more about life than anyone else. Cancer took her from this world in 2004, at the age of 62 and my life was forever impacted.

I won't wax poetic, because everyone's mother is special in their own way. Each person views theirs as a cut above and it's understandable. Moms teach us compassion, nurturing and unconditional love. My mother taught me to care for those who are weaker, because they need it more, but never turn my back on the strong ones, because they need it too. From the time I was young, I watched her choose others over herself and until the day she died, she did for others, not always because they needed it, but many times, simply because it gave her joy to see others happy. She was a provider, protector, and always a teacher. She had her faults, like all of us and like all of us, she didn't always learn from them, but she did teach from them.

The past 12 and a half years, since her death, have not been easy for me.. Those who know me, knew my love for my mother and hers for me. She loved to praise me, but many times she saw the same faults in me, she hated about herself. Giving of one's money, their time or even their love is common. It's what family and friends do that make them family and friends. What my mother did was give of herself and what she never taught me was how rarely it's reciprocated and just how much it takes out of you. This is not to say she was not selfish at times and it's not to say I wasn't, but what I've learned over the last few years is how much she was willing to do for others, without every expecting and many times with full knowledge it wasn't appreciated. While she was dying, she sacrificed much more for others, to leave them with happiness, than anyone sacrificed for her. I'd like to think my efforts reached hers, but I know they pale in comparison.

Recently, I've fallen on hard times and I think back to the past, when she'd sit down to calm me with a little chat, that would invariably end up at us laughing at 2am. Little did I know how much strength, courage and care she was instilling in me. What amazed me most about her death, was how others reacted. While she lived, they flocked and knelt by her bedside, taking every ounce of her strength, so that they could be remembered. While I did the same so that I'd never forget a single moment I'd shared with her. Soon after she died, they were gone, we separated and the family, friends and everything I'd known, was gone.

A few times over the past two months, as I struggled with loneliness and questioned my self worth, I thought of all the times she stood up for those in need. She helped them through it, but then didn't stop. She continued, checked in, made sure they were sheltered, fed and comforted. She invited more people into our home for a night, who stayed for a week, or two, or a summer, than anyone I have ever known. She made sure their time was relaxed and that they had everything they could have dreamed. She did so without any expectations, other than they'd come again. She feared those she cared about were ever in need. I thought about that and how she taught me to care for those who we cared for, even when they were at their worst, even to us. I thought about my actions and those of others and I was saddened, because she'd be so let down by those around me. She spoke often about the selfishness that surrounded her, but she never let it change her.

Today she would have been 75 and I think back to two days before she died, when she told me she worried about me, because she knew my compassion for others wasn't shared with those closest to me. As I sit in a strange house, thinking of her life, I think about how if things were different, how no matter what, she'd be by my side and the worse things got for me, the closer she'd be, no matter how much she hurt. She taught me so much, but she never truly taught me how much she hurt by giving so much of herself and never seeing even a sliver of it in return. I know now and my biggest regret is never being able to tell her that I understand, because her last years would have been so much less painful. Maybe my pain is to remind me of her. As if I could ever forget, like all those others.

Monday, January 2, 2017

December 2016 Movies

  1. The Last King - Beautiful, but drags at times. Solid performances and great almost mythic tale.
  2. A Christmas Horror Story - Wonderful elves can't save Santa in this one.
  3. Black Souls - The movie might not resonate, but La Cosa Nostra has nothing on Ndrangheta.
  4. Department Q: The Keeper Of Lose Souls - With hints of GWTDT, this one is riveting.
  5. Department Q: The Absent One - Doesn't reach part one, but wow, what a follow-up.
  6. Department Q: A Conspiracy of Faith - Amazing finale. Left me wanting ten more films/
  7. The Jungle Book - Feels longer than it is, but the laughs and heart string tugs work for adults.
  8. Compulsion - Based on Leopold & Loeb, Welles shines, making us question an eye of an eye.
  9. Happy - A documentary about being happy. Starts strong, but then becomes a little too preachy.
  10. Silent - Best animated movie under three minutes ever. No joke. It's brilliant.
  11. The African Queen - Re-watched an old favorite after many years. Bogey and Hepburn! 
  12. I Am Not A Serial Killer - Great idea, with awful twist ending, is unbearably boring.
  13. Elite Squad: The Enemy Within - Revered in Brazil, but it's a simple, played out plot.
  14. Journey To The West - A little long-winded, but beautifully shot, great fun and epic tale.
  15. Killswitch - Documentary on Net Neutrality. Nothing new, but concise. Could change minds.
  16. Sendero - Silly wrong turn tale, which borders on being good, but the dumb victims ruin it.
  17. Avenged - If not for laugh out loud bad script-writing, this one excels for a rape revenge film. 
  18. Films of Fury: The Kung Fu Movie - Silly cartoon segue, but seeing all these classics was fun.
  19. A Christmas Carol (Scrooge) 1951 - Alistair Sim is Scrooge. Wonderful and touching.
  20. The Thin Man - Powell dazzles, but Loy controls the film. Hammett's writing shines through.
  21. Minimalism: A Documentary about the Important Things - While I agree, this film fails
The African Queen, The Thin Man and A Christmas Carol were all movies I've seen before, so I'll leave them off the list. Silent was less than three minutes long, so I'll hold that one off too. This was the least amount of movies I've watched in a month in over two years. 

Top Three: The Keeper of Lost Souls, Compulsion, Killswitch
Bottom Three: I am Not a Serial Killer, Sendero, Minimalism
Biggest Surprise: Compulsion....only because I'd never heard of it
Biggest Letdown: I am Not A Serial Killer

My year long list, with over 300 movies will be posted soon, with my top 20 films I've viewed list to follow. I know you're all waiting with baited breath.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Final Thoughts On 2016

No, this will not be some memoriam to every celebrity who died this past year. While I too was saddened by the losses, it’s our individual lives and how those loves affect others that means the most. I won’t even discuss my personal woes, because the reality is, they’re mine and I own them. It’s called accountability and while this is in no way a pat on the back, it’s a lost art.

 This year has been a stressful one for me, but how can I complain when I have friends who have lost their parents, their siblings, their husbands and wives, even their children? I can’t in good faith ask for their pity or even their sympathy, or is it empathy, when I know the pain of losing the person who matters most to them. I can understand and show empathy and from where I am now, I can only do so by quietly dealing with life. Not the lemons we equate to bad tidings, but life.

People are enamored by clichés and their use of them says a lot about how we misunderstand our existence. Life isn’t meant to be viewed as “in comparison” to time. Life is time. And life is not short, it’s long. Very long. Some are cut short, but the average person will live to see parts of eight, maybe nine decades. My grandmother lived for 100 years and she died leaving me with the realization that we’re slaves to our routines and the very nature of routine is monotony. We do so, because it brings us a comfort and we, as humans, tend to be afraid of the unknown. We claim to be adventurous, but then we stay in the same home for 10, 20, 30 years. Some of us live within the same city or town for our entire lives. There is no adventure in that and it only makes life seem longer.

In 2016, I lost friends who were trapped in their own existence. Some confined physically and some mentally to a routine which made every day seem like an eternity. Hardships make time stand still and there is some truth to that adage that “time flies when you’re having fun.” I look back on my life and those I’ve lost, especially in 2016, and my time with them seems like a blur, because it was. I wish I could have a little more time with my friend’s father to play cards and laugh. To down drinks and laugh about the past with my friend Linda. To sit and gaze in awe at the strength of my friend Matthew and appreciate how much love he brought out of everyone.

This past year will be remembered for the loss of pop culture icons and yes, they had a huge impact on my life. An Impact I don’t mean to minimize in any way. But, we must remember, that they were also someone’s son or daughter and maybe even someone’s mother or father. They were someone’s best friend and someone’s lover. They were those everyday things for someone, who saw them as part of their routine, in a very long life, that suddenly felt much shorter when thinking back on the time with them and how that will never be again come to be.

This year was no longer or shorter than any other year, but in many ways, it made of our lives slow down, to experience the pain and speed up just fast enough for those moments of glory to seem fleeting. The new year will bring promise and within a week, maybe two, we’ll talk about the past year with some sort of nostalgia, remembering it as if it was ages ago, holding on to this falsehood that life is short. Life is long, but our ability to experience its joys are short. Especially in this age, where today’s revelation is yesterday’s standard, faster than we can remember enjoying the novelty. Sadly, we treat lives and friendships that way, because we don’t realize that we have time and loads of it. We just need to stop looking for the next moment, while we’re enjoying the present. For those who love clichés, it’s called the present, because we’re supposed to unwrap it slowly, enjoy it and be thankful for those who gave it to us.

 Goodbye 2016….you were, a year.