Outside Dependence

No great amount of experience is required to discover that the greedy search for money or success will almost always lead men into unhappiness.  Why?  Because that kind of life makes them depend upon things outside themselves.
   –  André Maurois
On This Day In:
2013 Doing Right
2012 A Short Course In Human Relations
If Death Be My Future
Such A Fool
2011 I’m Working For A Living

We Speak For Earth

We are the local embodiment of a Cosmos grown to self-awareness.  We have begun to contemplate our origins: starstuff pondering the stars; organized assemblages of ten billion billion billion atoms considering the evolution of atoms; tracing the long journey by which, here at least, consciousness arose.  Our loyalties are to the species and the planet.  We speak for Earth.  Our obligation to survive is owed not just to ourselves but also to that Cosmos, ancient and vast, from which we spring.
 ―  Carl Sagan
From his TV Show: “Cosmos
On This Day In:
2013 Inward Urgency
2012 Delayed Reviews
Fulfilling My Duty
2011 Interference

If You Ever Fall…

If you ever fall in love…
Fall in love with someone who wants to know your favorite color & how you like your coffee.  Fall in love with someone who loves to hear you laugh & does whatever they can to hear it often.  Fall in love with someone who puts their head on your chest to hear your heartbeat.  Fall in love with someone who kisses you in public & is proud to show you off to anyone & everyone you meet.  Fall in love with someone who makes you question why you were ever afraid to fall in love in the first place.  Fall in love with someone who makes you realize you are winning the race.  Fall in love with someone that will show you that when you hurt, he or she will hurt with you.  Fall in love with someone who will spend years with you & will still always flirt with you.  Fall in love with someone who falls in love with your flaws & thinks you are perfect just the way you are.  Fall in love with someone that shows you how to stop leading with your brain & start leading with your heart…
[Found on one of the blogs I follow:   http://relationshipreinvented.com/
The specific post is located at:   http://relationshipreinvented.com/2014/03/29/the-soul-of-a-man/
  --  KMAB]
On This Day In:
2013 Glory Days (part 2)
2012 They Follow A Pattern – If You Know What I Mean
What I Live For (Precis)
2011 Giving
Show me someone who thinks that money buys happiness, and I’ll show you someone who has never had a lot of money.
   –   David Geffen
[Christ is risen!  (Christians) Happy Easter to all!  (Spring pagans)  God is Great!  (Monotheists)  And, let's give peace a chance...  (Atheists, agnostics and everyone else :) )  --  KMAB]
On This Day In:
2013 Glory Days (part 1)
2012 Feeling Old?
2011 Even When I Wish Really, Really Hard
Skeptical Fathers
Today’s review is for the Sci-Fi movie “Dredd” (2012) starring Karl Urban.  This movie is a remake of “Judge Dredd” (1995) which starred Sylvester Stallone.  Whenever you start off a movie review with “remake”, there are two immediate questions: have you seen them both, and, which one is better.  Answer one: yes.  Answer two: neither one of these is going to win anyone any Oscar.  As a Urban “fan” and as someone who is not “really” a Stallone fan (although I’ve seen a LOT more of Sly’s work than Karl’s), I’d be tempted to go with the remake.  In fact, though, they are different films about the same main character which makes comparison more problematic.
Dredd (Sly) is a lot of action with a touch of humor.  Dredd (Urban) is a lot of action with a lot of blood.  Dredd (Sly) is a lot like any other over the top comic hero shoot ‘em up.  Dredd (Urban) is a visual “experience”, shot very similar to “300” or “Watchmen” with slow-mo amputations and spurting blood.  It was obviously meant to be viewed in 3-D at a theater, but I’m a 2-D person at home, so it probably lost some of its effects.  In any case, even when these visual effects are spectacular at the start of a movie, at the end of two hours you’re still yawning (ho-hum).
In this film, Dredd is assigned a new partner and he must evaluate her performance.  The pair get trapped in a meg-structure controlled by a drug-cartel / gang.  (Spoiler alert) The twist is that the cartel hires some “bad” Judges to come in and kill Dredd and his partner.  Three guesses: which judges win? who gets out of the building alive? and, does the rookie pass her evaluation?
The movie is about a dystopian future where there is very little value placed on human life.  Still, I found it mildly off-putting there was so much emphasis on the carnage and blood-letting and so little on a plot which made more sense.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m just getting old.  Yes, the F/X are better in the remake, but I can’t help feeling the first version had more story.  I’m definitely NOT saying it was a great movie – or even a better than good movie.  I just feel the first was better than the second as a story if not as a movie.  The one exceptional thing about this movie was the decision that Dredd would not take off his helmet for the entire movie.  I can’t think of many actors who can convey emotional content – for an entire movie - without the use of their eyes, but Urban carries it off.  (Like I said, I am a Karl Urban fan.)
Final recommendation: low to moderate recommendation with the qualification that although the title character is based on a “comic-book” character, this is not a child appropriate film due to language, violence and adult content.
On This Day In:
2013 Enemy Mine
2012 Strengthen Me
2011 Service, Please
2010 The Church In Crisis…

Now What?

Today’s review is for a DVD I picked up for old time’s sake.  The movie is titled: “Diner” from 1982 and was directed by Barry Levinson.  This was his directorial debut and was one of four movies he made about life in his hometown: Baltimore, Maryland.  It’s is supposed to be a “comedy / drama”, but I didn’t find much to laugh about in the movie, so I guess it’s supposed to be a “black comedy”, which, in turn, means it’s “disturbing” and not funny.  Levinson is supposed to be a big deal producer / director, but I don’t follow that stuff much, so I’m not really bothered about it.  With the exception of Hitchcock and Spielberg, I don’t really “go” to a movie “because” of its director.  I guess I’m unusual that way, as it seems to matter to people I know a lot more than it’s ever mattered to me.  And, although I did see this movie during its original release, I have no recollection of the other three movies in the “Baltimore series”.
Anyway, this movie is kind of an adult / older version of a coming of age story.  I usually think of “coming of age” stories as teen-to-adult, not “Oh, shit!  I’m an adult.  Now what do I do with the rest of my life.”  Well, this is the latter.  It’s the story of six male friends (and the wife of one of the friends) who come together for the wedding of one of the other five (the friend played by Guttenberg).  The movie was a launching pad for some folks who later went on to have pretty well known careers for the rest of the ’80′s, including: Steve Guttenberg (the guy getting married), Daniel Stern (the guy already married), Ellen Barkin (his wife), Mickey Rourke (playing a macho hairdresser, unlike Warren Beatty in “Shampoo“), Kevin Bacon (as a young alcoholic jerk with surprising intelligence jerk), Tim Daly (as the handsome guy in the group), Paul Reiser (as the “I have no idea why this guy is in this group of friends or this movie” character).
Now, you may be asking, why did this movie make Kevin’s list “for old time’s sake”?  Well, growing up, I used to follow the American football team based in Baltimore – the Colts – because I really liked their quarterback (Johnny Unitas) and one of their wide receivers (Raymond Berry).  The hooks (for me) in this movie are: before the Guttenberg character will marry his fiancé, she has to pass a test of knowledge about the history of the Colts and the NFL; the music played during the bride’s procession to the altar is the Colt’s theme / fight song; and, the wedding colors are Colt’s Blue and White.  The best line in the movie is when a female / spouse complains to one of the wedding guest characters about the wedding colors and he responds: “Hey, she should be grateful he doesn’t support the Steelers.”  For those of you who know little to nothing about American Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers colors are black and gold.  The “gold” has always looked more “yellow” to my eye, but it is supposed to be gold.  The fiancé narrowly fails the test, but he marries her anyway.  In my head, I can see a Steeler fan telling his fiancé their wedding colors will be Black and Gold…  Heck, I can see that now, let alone back in 1959!!
I don’t know if Americans “come of age” while sitting in diners anymore.  Perhaps they – diners – (like my own youth) are a thing of the past in these days of malls and franchise restaurants, but if you want to see a little slice of “Americana” as it was in earlier days (at least it is similar to how I remember late nights and early morning hours from my late teens and early twenties), then this is a pretty accurate snapshot and you should check out this movie.
Final recommendation: moderate recommendation.  A darker and more East Coast version of “American Graffiti“, without the cars / crusin’.  Good music, good writing and good character actors.
On This Day In:
2013 Judgement
2012 A Wild And Crazy Believer
Life’s Hope
2011 Just Getting Up
Directions Please

Hi-Yo Silver, Away!

Today’s movie review is for the 2013 version of “The Lone Ranger” starring Armie Hammer (as the Lone Ranger) and Johnny Depp (as Tonto).  Now, I don’t know Hammer from beans, but I’ve grown to really like Depp since he went through his “Pirates of the Caribbean” phase.  This is a remake / reboot of the classic Western genre movie hero.  It is also a classic “buddy-movie”.  I grew up listening to “The Lone Ranger” as a 78-LP, even before I started watching it on TV with Clayton Moore.  Needless to say, I first saw this movie on its opening weekend and this viewing is from the DVD which I was recently given.  (You can read my first review here.)
The “Lone Ranger” myth is a classic story of good versus evil.  In this version, a man, dedicated to law and order, and to justice, survives an ambush, teams up with an American Indian (Depp / Tonto) and they seek to bring justice to the gang which slaughtered the posse of Texas Rangers and the Indian’s tribe.
Within the context of the struggle between good vs evil / power vs justice, the movie has an over-arching theme and then two sub-themes.  The over-arching theme is exaggerated action typical of the “Pirates” series (same director).  This is meant to visually stimulate and entertain the audience with “eye-candy special effects”.  The first (for me) sub-theme is that peaceful folks survive by luck and this is represented by almost slapstick comedy (basically, the first half of the movie).  The second sub-theme is that criminals can “really” only be confronted and controlled by violence (the second half of the movie).  In this movie, there is a palpable change between sub-themes when the main character (John Reid / Hammer) decides to “become” the avenger for Justice: “The Lone Ranger”.  After this inflection point, the action becomes intended instead of “chance / coincidence / slapstick”.  While I don’t agree with the “philosophy” of the decision towards violence to confront the criminal, it is (probably) mostly inescapable in real life.
So, is this a Disney / family / kids movie?  Kinda to mostly, but not entirely.  There are a few scenes which are surprising graphic and may be too intense for very young children (under 8), but all in all, it remains a “Disney” film.  I found it to be long, but entertaining, well worth the purchase price and I hope there will be sequels.  Final recommendation: with the minor qualification about age appropriateness, this is a highly recommended film.
In case anyone cares, most of the “professional” reviewers hated this movie, while most of the regular folks either liked or loved it.  I think (still) history will show it was better than the professional reviews.  When I went to see this movie at the theater with my daughter (Sarah), there was a line!  I was stunned and said aloud, “Don’t you people realize this movie was trashed by the critics!?!”  What I noticed was there were of lot of older Dads and Grand-Dads bringing their kids and Grand-kids to see this movie.  I like to think of this as cross-generational pollination of the “good and worthy” hero to those who follow.  And so the myth of that hero in the Old West continues…
On This Day In:
2013 Warning:
2012 Thinking About Beauty
2011 A Founding Father’s Argument Against Public Funding Of Religious Education
Weekend Update
So Far, So Good



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