Saturday, July 27, 2013

Rolling Stone Magazine - The Boston Bomber

Much was made about the recent cover story by  Rolling Stone magazine on Jahar, the Boston Bomber.  There was public outrage from just about everyone, because of the 'rock star' cover photo.  Social and mainstream media was abuzz over the controversy and like that it was over.  The real reason the outrage ended so abruptly was because when viewing the cover in reality (not via cell or computer), the photo was nothing more than a grainy reissued photo  seen in many magazine and newspapers previously.  I didn't find fault for the petty reasons others did, feeling the victims should have been on the cover, because i thought that would have been true exploitation.  I was bothered because it gives a voice, maybe even a motive to others, who might want to don the cover and receive their 15 minutes.  The real issue(s) should have been with the article.

The article is basically two parts.  The beginning, which makes Jahar out to be the greatest guy on the planet.  The American dream, unrealized, but full of potential.  The second part, is a dissection of his decent and gives every reason it can think of why we shouldn't fully blame him. A turbulent  background, dissolving family  structure, a manipulative older brother and a confused religious ideology.  This is where the uproar should have been targeted.  Let us not forget that this "child," as he is represented, was of age to know better. He knew quite well from right and wrong.  One could dissect this article and possibly point to drug use, social stereotype and religious confusion, but the reality is, he knew what he was doing was wrong and he followed through on what was a premeditated act.  To feel sorrow for him is impossible.  This was not a suicide mission and he was in no way a martyr.  Regardless of your  religious beliefs, he didn't die for the cause, like those in 9/11 and therefore this wasn't jihad in terms of him sacrificing himself for the greater good.  The article fails miserably in it's attempt to paint  a picture of  a confused, lost little  boy, because  that's not what he is.

July 4th Morning

Thursday July 4, 2013
I awaken to scampering down a familiar hallway. A door slams; a reminder of the abysmal conditions. The discolored cracked ceiling like wrinkles, as if my life is mirrored in some shabby paint job.  I lay to the side, pain shooting down my leg, I wince. I find myself listening for the sounds of yesterday's Jazz. Like an old house cat, i stretch, bones cracking, my mouth agape. An exaggerated yawn, releasing that final breath of serenity. Emotions, negative. The realization this is home.

Stoker

When I first heard about this film, I was giddy with anticipation. Park Chan-Wook's Oldboy is one of my favorite movies and I was interested to see what the director would do with an American film.  I went into viewing this film with an interest I rarely have about a film.  So the expectations were much higher than usual.  The film starts off very slowly, a family, a death, a unknown stranger and a family dynamic that is far from normal.  The entire time you realize something very strange is happening, but you have no idea where it is going and to be honest, I almost started to lose patience.  Just at that very moment, there was a scene, simple in it's premise, portraying the two main characters playing piano together.  To give any details would be to cheat you of the experience, but let's just say it was sheer brilliance and the moment the film took off.  Everything from that moment on took on new meaning.  Wook's ability to control a completely the chaos is nothing short of amazing.   The movie is stunningly beautiful in its cinematography and the scenes  flow effortlessly together.  The acting is also brilliant, with Mia W absolutely tantalizing from start to finish.  Matthew Goode is chilling as the mystery uncle.  Nicole Kidman, whom I normally dislike, was equal parts  sultry and aloof  and in one scene, one in which she delivers the line of the movie, she is downright wicked.  Most will complain about tempo, but you're overlooking the path to the incredible conclusion.  It's a movie I greatly look forward to seeing again in a few months, to watch for the subtle nuances that Wook inserted so masterfully. In my opinion, a masterpiece.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Probably the strangest Oscar nominee of the last few years, this movie takes a look at the love, anger and fight for survival between a dirt poor little girl named Hushpuppy and her father Wink.  They live in what looks to be some sort of island off the gulf coast known as  The Bathtub. The people here, all seem to have a story that binds them, yet we never hear it.  We don't know how they got there, but they are there and they are surviving off the land, much like our ancestors. They aren't wanted by 'civilized" and they don't want them in return.  When the two do finally meet, there is no understanding of each others world.

The movie is really a metaphor for us growing together, living and loving together and how if one of us breaks the Earth, it breaks it for everyone.  On the surface it's a beautiful, if not painful tale about a little girl who will never have, but is fine with what she  does have, as long as she has her father.  She longs for a mother she never really knew, but who through stories and dreams, has become a beacon (literally at times in the movie) of hope.  The movie fails in that we're constantly worried about this child, but we grow to know that she is stronger that any of us will be. It succeed in giving those of us who struggle a voice and a message.  It fails desperately in it's climactic scene, where we see the outcome coming a mile away, thanks to a very familiar commercial, but succeeds in allowing the father and child, and  i assume the audience, to let go.  In the end, it succeeds, because  Hush Puppy is the wondrous child in all of us, looking to survive, but more importantly, looking to make her mark on this world and become part of it and it's history.

Cache

Michael Haneke's gift is to take seemingly normal people and throw on huge monkey wrench into their lives and show how they react, not as monsters, superheroes or any other comic book cliche, but as regular people dealing with fate.  Cache is a very simple movie.  A family is tormented based on the actions of the father when he was only six.  The movie explores the feelings of a man who knows his childish selfishness caused another human being to live a somewhat unfulfilled life, while he went on to celebrity status, despite a life filled with mundane tasks and a relationship with his wife which can be described, at best as, tolerable.

Where Cache fails miserably was in it's placing celebrity status upon the main character.  His public is not at all what it is at home, and while that is the point, it takes away from the division between he and his stalker.  In the end, we are left with this empty feeling that this shell of a man, will life his life out as he always has, with the simplicity of daily chores and responsibilities being all that he has, yet his life is admired from afar as something spectacular.

Is Haneke telling us to enjoy or own lives and not to covet what others have?   If so, he nailed this aspect of human nature in Time of the Wolf, so why reexamine it?  There is also his political message, which may be lost on those who aren't French, but he has stated his movies should be adaptable to everyone.  We as Americans need only really look at our treatment of slaves and the subsequent treatment of blacks, even today, to understand this subtle message.  All this being said, it doesn't make for an entertaining film.  While thought provoking, his use of long still shots and silences get in the way of allowing for any flow, only helping in reminding us of the tediousness of every day life.

LOOPER

When Looper came out, the buzz was all about it's complex plot twists and crazy concept, but I had a feeling it had all been done before and it has.  Looper is not nearly as complex as its star's previous movie, Inception and actually, isn't that complex at all if you pay attention during the first hour.  Now, that is where it becomes difficult. The first hour of the movie is dreadful and boring.  Enter Emily Blunt.  Aside from being very easy on the eyes, she brings something the movie was lacking and that is a heart and by the end of the film, you realize just how much she means to the movie as a whole. The third quarter is by no means great, but it at least kept me interested, which is a good thing, because the finale 20-30 minutes is great and Blunt has almost everything to do with that.   The movie fails in its attempt to be deeper than it is, but shines as a pure action film towards the end.  While terribly flawed, the final few scenes does make it worth the two hour investment.

Red White and Blue

When I viewed The  Lost, the star, Marc Senter stuck out for all the wrong reasons. Rarely do you see a main character, even in B-movie, who is completely inept at not showing he's acting. Senter always seems to know where the camera is and because of this, we do to. Had I known he had a role in this, I probably would have passed.
Do not be mislead by the title.  There is nothing patriotic about this film.  It's about a promiscuous girl, an infatuated older man, a punk who in a band and his friends.  The first twenty minutes is nothing more than the girl, played by Amanda Fuller, having random sex and fleeing attachments. One can't help but believe, directing a movie is the only way these people could ever get to see a pretty attractive girl naked. I won't bore you with details, but we soon learn that the girl has a secret, something she eventually "shares" with the band member. Then the old guy turns this yawner of a sexplotiation film into a horror film. The writer called this a modern day love story in the special features and it leads me to believe, he grew up seeing Deliverance, The Burning Bed and Pycho a few too many times.  This is nothing more than another addition to the ever growing list of misogynistic films, written and directed by men, who have very shallow feelings towards women and even less respect.

King of Devil's Island

This film, based on a true story, is about a home for wayward boys on a desolate island of Norway.  The movie begins with an older teen, remembering his harpooning of a whale, while working a fishing boat. The boys vary in ages and it's known that the main character, referred to as C-19 is in for murder.  One boy, has been there for six years, for stealing from a church. The idea is that through hard work and discipline, the boys can turn their lives around, becoming positive members of society.  But, who is disciplining the adults, who dole out their chores and punishments.

The movie is similar to Sleepers, in that it's all a huge set up for the revenge for one boy's pain, but takes on a Lord of the Flies remake, during most of the earlier scenes.  Some may dislike the convoluted ending, but I think it's important to realize that the movie i all a metaphor about how, no matter what we do in life, we all bend rules to benefit our own need, but in the end, it's caring for others and for order, that keeps us from chaos.

House of Voices

I had already viewed Martyrs and the Tall Man before seeing Pascal Laugier's first film, House of Voices. The first thing I realized was that it had all the trademarks of his two latter films.  The main characters are women and they are both incredibly strong, fearless and conflicted. While this film doesn't contain the brutality of Martyrs or the incredible plot twists of The Tall Man, it does show a glimpse into the man's mind and how adept he is at making a seemingly simple horror house flick into a psychological mind bend, while attacking political and social issues as well.  The films co-stars match beautifully with the incredible Virginie Ledonnen and the film is shot with an incredible eye for a first time director.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My All-Time Baseball Team

This is kind of silly, but it's inspired by my "abuse" at the hands of John Cooney, who claims to have seen a picture of me at 15, maybe 16, in a Philadelphia Phillies shirt, despite my claim that I've liked Boston since 1984.  First let me break down my love affair with baseball teams by years.
1976-1979 Yankees &Phillies (Boston was my #3) - my parent's and grandparent's favorite teams
1980-1983 Phillies (Boston #2) - You'll see why from my all-time team
1984- present Boston (Phillies are my NL team). - Started with Clemens and I stuck with them

All-Time Team (only players I've watched play)

C - Jason Varitek - The Sox captain. Epitome of team player, even when his skills had diminished.
1B - Cecil Cooper - I played a lot of first base as a kid and absolutely adored Coop.
2B - Dustin Pedroia - Gritiest player in MLB today.
SS - Nomar Garciaparra - Had he not been hurt and A-Rod stayed at short, Jeter would be #3 in MLB
3B - Mike Schmidt - My favorite batter of all-time. Nothing is better than listening to Ted Williams talk about just how good he was.
LF - Carl Yastrzemski - People might be shocked to know I like him more than Manny.
CF - Garry Maddox - "Two thirds of the earth is covered by water, the other third, by Garry Maddox." - Harry Kalas
RF - Dwight Evans - Arguably the best arm I've ever seen and one of the most underrated players ever.
SP - Steve Carlton - My favorite player of all-time.
SP - Roger Clemens - At one time my second favortire, but hard to like him as a person these days.
SP - Pedro Martinez - For a stretch, the best athlete in all of sports.
SP - Ron Guidry - The biggest travesty the BBWA and the Hall of Fame has ever committed.
CL - Dan Quisenberry - I've always been mesmerized by quality side-arm, submarine pitchers.
Bench - Roy White, Greg Luzinski, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Larry Bowa, Willie Randolph, Trot Nixon,  Kevin Youkilis, Bake McBride
RP - Tim Wakefield, Tom Gordon, Kent Tekulve, Goose Gossage,

Could A True Conservative Please Explain Without.....

The past few weeks has been a crazy time for the news, tabloids and the country in general.  Laws have been passed, thrown out, debated and basically run through the gamut of things that can happen.  We've seen news stories that broke, continued, gotten juicy and fizzled.   Through it all, it seems the Conservatives in this country have stayed very consistent.  They've favored with the side that doesn't represent the wishes of most of the country.  So that leads me to this very simple question, which I welcome to have explained to me.

Could a true conservative please explain something to me, without bringing up the words Obama or Liberals, making assumptions based on opinion and not referencing the Bible or "God's Will" in your answer?  He re's my rational for my stipulations.  Laws, decisions and policy shouldn't be an act of revenge to get back at something else you didn't get. They shouldn't be made based on fact less opinions and they shouldn't be made on religious beliefs. This is actually in the Constitution.

OK, so here's my question.  How can you align yourself with a group of people who....
Back limiting the rights to certain voters (essentially making them less American than others).
Back a man who stalked a child based on his bias and shot him to death (after the PD told him not to).
Back a woman who wanted her wedding attendants to represent blacks during slavery.
Back a bill that overturns a woman's right to make decisions about her own health.
Back reversing the right of all people who love each other to exchange vows and be recognized.
Back laws that prevent loving parents from caring for a child, but would allow for rapists to gain custody.
Back a bill that will double the interest on student's loans, putting them in further debt.
Back laws instituted in hurting immigrants who were born in this country.
Back the disproved theory (by their paid scientists, no less) that global warming is a hoax.
Back every bill that benefits the top 1% and those that cripple the bottom 25%.

I wish I could say my question(s) was an exaggeration, but it's pretty spot on.  I could post twenty biblical quotes contradicting conservative thought, so don't bore me with those.  Just quite simply, without pointing the blame or excuses onto others or a book, please tell me how one of faith, or one of knowledge or quite simply, one with a sense of decency and humanity,sides with people who feel the way of those I just described?  Feel free to send your response privately.  I look forward to any reply that can adequately explain this to me.

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Happy Facebooker

While on my preferred social media website, Twitter, I quickly conversed with someone about the hilarity of the happiness shared by everyone on Facebook.  This is not to say my friend and I don't love seeing out friends in moments of joy, but we both viewed certain people's perpetual happiness (or unhappiness) with some trepidation. How is it possible for anyone to be in a constant state of bliss or misery.  Simple odds tell us this isn't so.  

We shared quick stories and it soon became evident that this isn't resigned to those we know, but is the manifestation of jealousy caused by social media.  When someone views their best friend sitting on a beach, sipping boat drinks, they immediately feel the need to one up them.   They share a tale, true or not, about their heightened levels of happiness and are sure to thank everyone who likes or comments, taking those little moments of recognition and turning it into some make believe emotion.

I've known people to thank their husbands for always being there for them, a week after they told me they were divorcing.  I know people who praise their children for breakfast in bed, reading later in the police blotter that their child was arrested the night before. I've read statuses filled with tales of romantic evenings only to run into one of the members of said couple alone in a bar later that evening.  Sometimes the lies are even worse, but I'll refrain on the chance I inadvertently out someone whose entire life might be a bit of a charade.

There is nothing more I want in life than for those I consider friends to be happy.  Their happiness is usually passed down to their children, coworkers and sometimes even to me. Their smiling faces, bring smiles to mine and I hope vice versa. I just don't understanding the lies. Creating a false sense of happiness leads to depression in the one lying, but it also leads to a deterioration of those around them.  I know first hand that those who create this false euphoria are also the ones who are the first to complain when others aren't there for them in their times of need.  It's almost as if they've created a reverse boy who cried wolf syndrome, but they refuse to ever acknowledge their woes are usually self manufactured and then exacerbated by their boisterous claims of glee.

Smokey Robinson once sung the song Tears of a Clown.  Sometimes I think it's should be Facebook's theme.  We all have ups and we all have downs and that's what makes us human and what makes us alike. Be careful the next time you attempt to con the eyes of Facebook into thinking life is better than it is, because  when it's not, those eyes will not be looking, allowing you to stew in what we all feel day to day.