Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for July, 2016

Today’s reviews are for an older movie I’ve just seen and an a newer movie I’ve seen multiple times and really enjoy.  The first is “Edge Of Darkness” (2010) starring Mel Gibson and the second is “Live, Die, Repeat: Edge Of Tomorrow”  (2014) starring Tom Cruise.
Edge Of Darkness  —  movie review
Edge Of Darkness” is a police / crime / mystery / revenge drama about a policeman whose daughter is shot/murdered on his doorstep as the father is trying to take his daughter to the ER.  At first, the assumption is that the police officer was the intended victim and the daughter an unfortunate accident.  The father shortly finds indications this is not the case and he begins to suspect the daughter was the real target of the homicide.  The father (Thomas Craven) is played by Mel Gibson (who is starting to look OLD) and the daughter (Emma Craven) is played by Bojana Novakovic / Gabrielle Popa depending on whether the daughter is old (Bojana) or young (Gabriella).  Blah, blah, blah…  Mel kills everyone and gets revenge.  The movie ends with a rather strange scene of the spirit of the daughter coming back to get the dying father and they walk down the hospital hallway into the “bright light”.
To tell the truth, I’d never heard about this movie before and did not watch the trailer until after I’d seen the film.  It (the film) was much better than I expected (despite the kind of lame ending).  Probably because I’m used to seeing Mel Gibson in rom-com kind of roles now that he’s gotten older, I don’t really think of him as the action/hero cop of his “Lethal Weapon” days.  He’s not that here (“Lethal Weapon” -esque), but he does have a few action scenes before the big shootout.  Anyway, the most interesting aspect of the movie was not the action or the police drama, it was the framing of the movie as a love story about a father and his only daughter.  This is initially done via family video tapes and then, later in the film, via (“Sixth Sense“) “I see/hear dead people” flashes by the dad.  I would say the movie almost over-hammers this point by going back to it again and again, but in the end, it worked for me.
Final recommendation: strong.  I enjoyed the movie.  It has appropriate levels of action and the pacing seemed fine for the length (at just under two hours).  The movie is rated “R” for violence (and it is).  This is definitely not a “classic” for Mel or for the genre, but if you enjoy the “Deathwish” crime / revenge drama genre, you will almost certainly enjoy this addition to it.
Edge Of Tomorrow  —  movie review
Live, Die, Repeat: Edge Of Tomorrow” (the movie’s full name) is a SciFi blend of “Groundhog Day” meets “Independence Day” with a healthy dash of “Battle: Los Angeles” thrown in.  The movie stars Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt as the heroes / love interests.  Basically, Earth is attacked and Emily appears to have saved the day.  In reality, she hasn’t and Tom has to come behind her and finish the job on the nasty old aliens.  He does.
I did not see this movie at the theater and I regret it.  I was not a big Tom Cruise fan, so I thought, “I’ll wait for the video…”  This was a mistake!  This is definitely a movie which should be enjoyed on as big a screen as possible.  Oh well, my 50 inch screen from 2-3 feet away has had to do the job.  And, it has.  About a half dozen times (so far).  I have thoroughly enjoyed this film and it easily bears up to watching repeatedly.  Is that ironic, or what?  As usual, I digress…
Final recommendation: Highly.  This is a very good to great SciFi movie.  It has an alien invasion, explosions, special effects, exoskeleton combat suits, action, humor, loud mouth Southern sergeants, a light touch of romance – everything!  And, it has them over and over again!  This movie made me go back and look for Tom and Emily in other movies and I’ve enjoyed many of them more than I did on first viewing.  I love it when a movie can completely change my perspective on one or two actors and this was one of those movies for me.
Now that I’ve effused, it’s not “really” a “GREAT” movie.  It didn’t win any Oscars and it’s not going to go down in history as a “classic”, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it multiple times and could easily watch it again today (or in the near future).  If you like this genre (military SciFi / alien invasion / time travel paradoxes), you will love this movie.  Take it to the bank.
.
On This Day In:
2015 I Hope Not
2014 Study The Means Of Expressing Yourself
2013 That Stubborn Thing
2012 Like Mike
2011 Flawless Or Candid
2010 Browning…

Read Full Post »

Culture is the sum of all the forms of art, of love, and of thought, which, in the coarse or centuries, have enabled man to be less enslaved.
   —   Andre Malraux
.
On This Day In:
2015 I Hope Not
2014 Study The Means Of Expressing Yourself
2013 That Stubborn Thing
2012 Like Mike
2011 Flawless Or Candid
2010 Browning…

Read Full Post »

Baton Rouge, St. Paul, Dallas, Nice (France)…
Sometimes, life (and violence) seems so cruel and indifferent.  All I want to do is rage against the world.  After Louisiana and Minnesota, I wanted a few days before I expressed my sadness in a blog.  After Texas, I was waiting to give myself a moment to absorb the hunting of police officers.  Now, France and peaceful crowds gathered to celebrate liberty…
I don’t have any answers…  I only offer this suggestion:
(If you are curious about the lyrics, I’ve added them to my “Poems” page.)
For now, I pray for those lost, for their families and for Peace…
.
On This Day In:
2015 Looking For The Needles In The Haystacks
2014 The Definition Of A Gentleman
2013 Thar She Blows (Not)!
2012 Naturally
2011 Been Here, Done That
Remember
2010 Timeless Classics

Read Full Post »

The great law of culture: Let each become all that he was created capable of being.
   —   Thomas Carlyle
.
On This Day In:
2015 Looking For The Needles In The Haystacks
2014 The Definition Of A Gentleman
2013 Thar She Blows (Not)!
2012 Naturally
2011 Been Here, Done That
Remember
2010 Timeless Classics

Read Full Post »

Freedom

Freedom is
the very law of life,
life itself
is rooted in freedom
We are not
machines.
We are not
pre-programmed.
We are utter freedoms.
Now it is up to us,
what to make of it.
You have to take
your life into
your own hands,
and you
are responsible for it.
No fate is responsible.
You have to
create yourself
by your own effort.
The total responsibility
is yours.
   —  Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
[Yes, I know this is a quote from a discredited “cult” religious figure / leader.  But, that does not make the words themselves less interesting.  —  KMAB]
.
On This Day In:
2015 Face It
Birdfight
2014 Honoring Firefighters
2013 And Never Will
2012 The Human Adventure Continues
2011 Almost Never

Read Full Post »

Burnout runs through the teaching profession like Asian-flu — possibly because it depresses people to be physically assaulted by those they are trying to civilize.
   —    Lance Morrow
.
On This Day In:
2015 Campbell’s Law
2014 Dignified Values
2013 Unappreciated Skill
2012 Living Courage
2011 What’s Happening To Us?
2010 Toothbrush, Carbon and Monoxide
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

 

Read Full Post »

Can anyone here say that if we can’t do it, someone down the road can do it?  And if no one does it, what happens to the country?  All of us here know the economy would face an eventual collapse.  I know it’s a hell of a challenge, but ask yourselves: If not us, who?  If not now, when?
  —   President Ronald Reagan
.
On This Day In:
2015 Change Process
2014 What Is Still Possible
2013 Strength Is There
2012 Beyond Reasonable Doubt
2011 Celebrating Values
2010 Is it just me, or is it suddenly dark around here?
Dance!

Read Full Post »

Doubt is not a pleasant state of mind, but certainty is absurd.
     —    Voltaire
.
On This Day In:
2015 Distracted
2014 What It Takes
2013 We Are
2012 Utopian
2011 Seen Any Black Swans Lately?

Read Full Post »

Going Back

Every day people are straying away from the church and going back to God.
    —   Lenny Bruce
.
On This Day In:
2015 Just For Today
2014 Reaching For Destiny
2013 Still Just Passing Through
2012 Live Or Die
2011 On Secession
2010 A Rocky Weekend

Read Full Post »

The Lady In The Van”  (2015)  —  movie review
Well, last night the wife and I thought we’d enjoy a little British comedy starring Dame Margaret (“Maggie”) Smith starring in “The Lady In The Van“.  The movie tells the (mostly) true story of Miss Mary Shepherd, an eccentric homeless woman whom playwright Alan Bennett befriended in the 1970s.  He allows her temporarily to park her Bedford van in the driveway of his Camden home.  She ends up staying there for 15 years.  As the movie progresses, Bennett learns Miss Shepherd is really Margaret Fairchild, a former gifted pupil of a famous pianist.  She played classic music (piano) in a famous concert, tried to become a nun, was committed to a mental institution by her brother, escaped, then had an accident when her van was hit by a motorcyclist (who dies).  She believed herself to blame, and there after lived in fear of arrest.  At the very least, she was guilty of fleeing the scene of fatal auto accident.
Alex Jennings plays Alan Bennett and he does it in a kind of split personality role where he frequently appears as two parts of himself at the same time.  One seems to be “the writer” and the other seems to be “the normal person”.  At least, that is what I assume as this duality is never clearly explained in the film.  In the end, it is (not) clear this movie is, in fact, about him, and not about the lady, at all.  This is in spite of the title.  (My wife, disagrees.  She felt the movie was clearly about the lady.)
The movie is one of those “classically” unfunny comedies the British are famous for.  There was no laughter at our house – an occasional smile – mostly smirks.  That’s not to say Smith and Jennings aren’t very good in their respective roles.  It’s just that, except for a few one-liners and ripostes, the movie is entertaining, but not funny.
Final recommendation: moderate.  The acting is very good, but the movie is confusing.  Maybe it needs a second or third viewing.  The problem is I’m not sure I feel it is worth that much trouble or effort.  Somewhat amusing, in a British kind of way…
.
On This Day In:
2015 Quality Government
A Handful Of Flics
2014 Just Another Brick From The Wall
2013 Artistic Demands
2012 Foundations
2011 Are We Devouring Yet?

Read Full Post »

God enters by a private door into each individual.
    —   Ralph Waldo Emerson
.
On This Day In:
2015 Quality Government
A Handful Of Flics
2014 Just Another Brick From The Wall
2013 Artistic Demands
2012 Foundations
2011 Are We Devouring Yet?

Read Full Post »

Spotlight”  (2015)  —  movie review
Spotlight” won the Academy Award as best picture of the year for 2015, so it’s a given this is a good / great movie and my final recommendation is: highly recommended!
Okay.  Now that that’s out of the way, what’s the movie about and why do I recommend it?
The movie is about the lead up to the Pulitzer Prize winning series of articles published by the “Spotlight” investigative journalism team of the Boston Globe back in 2002, which dealt with child molestation (rape) and the systematic (and systemic) decades long cover-up orchestrated by the Catholic Church under the direction of senior religious authority (in this case, by Cardinal Bernard Law, the Archbishop of the Boston).
I am unable to separate my feelings about this movie’s subject matter and my own faith.  I make no claims of religious (or moral) superiority or distinction.  I was baptized Catholic as a baby and attended both Catholic grammar and high schools in San Francisco.  I left the practice of my faith for a number of years and returned to “The Church” over a decade ago in my late 40’s.  As a practicing Catholic, this scandal has been extremely troubling for me.  As humans, we are all weak and have failings.  To understand there will be some in the religious orders who take advantage of their position is one thing.  To have the institution of the Church systematically cover-up unlawful activity propagated against its weakest and most vulnerable (we are, after all, talking about the sexual abuse of children and teenagers) members is quite another.  To say I was and still am furious is quite the understatement!
At the end of the film, there is a list of cities where there has been shown to have been similar abuse and cover-up.  The list is over two full screens!  Moving forward, I only hope that every priest or nun who is proven guilty of these crimes is punished to the full extent of the law.  I further believe that going forward, any other priest, nun, Bishop or Cardinal who fails to report these activities to civil / criminal authorities should be prosecuted for conspiracy to aid and abet in the same crimes and all should be defrocked and excommunicated.
I liked the “film” (not the topic) very much.  The story was interesting and well paced.  The acting was also very good.  I think it very clearly showed this was a failure of persons and of institutions.  The movie was not particularly hard on the Church (as some have objected) and it fairly accurately related the outrage the common Catholic felt (and still feels) about these crimes and sins.  I have no pity for any of the individuals who were brought out from the shadows by the original articles or by this movie.  I continue to hope God has a special place in Hell for all of those in positions of authority who allowed this to continue and who did nothing or who actively attempted to hide these abusers from criminal prosecution.
This movie is about what happens when we let individuals and institutions stand above the law.  Ultimately, though, it is also a cautionary tale about what might happen if we continue to let our “fourth estate” (the written press) get eaten up by corporate consolidation and the lure of speed / cost savings / increased productivity promised by the internet.  Who will be there to inform us in 30 to 50 years when there are no investigative teams?  Did anyone else just feel a shiver run down their back?
“Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”
  —  Louis D. Brandeis
Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court
.
On This Day In:
2015 Thousands
2014 What We Can
2013 Mostly Unsound
2012 Malcontent
2011 What Have You Seen Lately?
Just Perspire!

Read Full Post »

You know sometimes I wonder
How it has come to be
That a little bit of you
Could have rubbed right off on me.
It seems I need you more and more
A little bit each day
Your smile and gentle hugs
Help me make it thru the day.
Sometimes it almost makes me wince
To love you as I do;
And still you draw this love from me
As only you can do.
It would take another lifetime
For me to love you more —
I thank you for this love I give
And for that which you restore.
  —    KMAB
.
On This Day In:
2015 Thousands
2014 What We Can
2013 Mostly Unsound
2012 Malcontent
2011 What Have You Seen Lately?
Just Perspire!

Read Full Post »

A state which dwarfs its men, in order that they may be more docile instruments in its hands … will find that with small men no great thing can really be accomplished.
   —  John Stuart Mill
.
On This Day In:
2015 Happy Memory
Of Two Minds
2014 Sums
2013 Memories & Binging
Admiration Due
2012 Choices Matter
2011 Acceptance Is The Key
2010 Just A Permanent Crease…
Bodily Functions

Read Full Post »

The Big Short”  (2015)  —  movie review
Last night I watched “The Big Short“, which is a movie about how the banking, finance, credit bureaus  and real estate industries defrauded the American public (actually the entire world) and got away with it.  The movie stars Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling and is rated “R” for language and frontal nudity (brief scenes with strippers).  The movie uses cut-aways to random famous people to provide “definitions / explanations” and (I guess) a bit of levity.  This act of having the person on camera “speak” to the audience is known as “breaking the fourth wall”.
For some time now, about forty years ago, the banking industry moved away from traditional “banking” and started trying to make money off of making money.  This began as an attempt to monetize risk into products which could be sold.  This was done via derivatives, which is a fancy way of saying “money for nothing”.  It is not really “nothing”, it’s position, options, leverage, coverage, insurance, or any number of other names for financial security – or rather, the illusion of financial security.  Some people think of it as shared risk.  I think it’s more traditional name is gambling.
Okay.  I’ll get off my soap-box and get back to the movie.  Four groups of financial players discover the housing market is being fraudulently (and criminally) propped up and, in fact, is in a giant bubble.  A “bubble” happens when greed takes over common sense in a market and prices for the items in the market are far higher than the actual value of the item and / or the ability of the buyer in the market to purchase the item.  Theoretically, when you lose the ability to pay for something, you should stop buying it.  However, in a true bubble, because “everyone” expects the price to continue to increase, the buyers continue to buy under the assumption the price will continue to go up and just before you lose the item (foreclosure for realty), you sell the item and take whatever profit you can.  IF you can time your exit correctly and get out with a profit, you win.  However, this is not true investing.  It is merely speculating.  This speculation is what is at the heart of the movie.
That is the “before” side of the movie.  The four groups know there is a bubble and one of them creates a derivative to profit (vastly) if the housing market bubble bursts.  The other three parties  get wind of the derivative and essentially go “all-in” to bet on the crash.  This is all happening in roughly 2005.  The expectation is the crash will happen in early 2007 when a percentage of mortgage loans which are variable rates with short-term fixed rate teasers have the teaser expire.
When 2007 rolls around and the housing market does crash, the derivatives don’t initially pay out because the banks / credit agencies / insurance companies  and government don’t want the national economy to collapse.  Essentially, the U.S. Taxpayer (via the government) foots the bill for the losses of the restructuring financial market.  Inevitably, a few of the large financial players “go away” (get bought up at severe discount) and the global economy is saved.   Here, the key point of the movie is that the little guy in America loses their home, but none of the fraudulent bankers and financiers goes to jail.  The irony is they (the banks and financiers) have prevented legislation which might stop this from happening again in the future, and we are back on the same roller coaster again.
Final recommendation:  highly.  This is a complicated movie about a complex subject.  The average person seeing the movie will probably not understand the financial portions of the movie.  They will (probably) understand the effects of the bubble burst because most of us have been living through the results (recession) over the last ten years (and still going).  This is not a great movie, but it is an honorable attempt to educate the working people of America.
.
On This Day In:
2015 Even The Little Ones
2014 Who’s On First?
2013 No Equal Measure
2012 A Single Host
2011 No Exemptions
2010 Memories Of KSA – Inside The Fire

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: