Monday, January 19, 2015

Selma




Despite the burdens
That result from leading change
He remained focused.

Living a life that's
Challenging and uncertain,
He remained steadfast.

Faced with doubt and fear
He looked upward and inward
To inspire others

Saturday, January 17, 2015

American Sniper

My pellet gun -- it was a BB gun, truth be told, but "pellet gun" sounds much more dangerous -- was with me constantly during my pre-teen years, as I explored the woods on my family's small farm on weekends. I wasn't a peacenik tree hugger back then; I'd shoot at anything, alive or not.

I wasn't that good of a shot, though, so I rarely wounded or killed anything.

One Saturday, however, I took aim at a Blue jay perched nearby. I was in its space, I suppose, and it was angry. It would circle in the air above me, then dive suddenly toward my head before perching on a nearby limb to watch me and re-calculate its attack.

It was during this brief respite that I cocked my BB gun, aimed, and pulled the trigger.

The pellet struck the bird in the side of the head, killing it instantly. I ran to it, picked it up, and examined it closely. The bird was lifeless, but it was still beautiful. It's colors were vivid: the contrast between the light and dark blue feathers was remarkable. Realizing that I had taken the life of something so beautiful caused me to become sick to my stomach.

I dropped the bird on the ground and ran home. Overwhelmed. Embarrassed. Guilty.

The experience taught me I'm not built for killing. I just don't have the constitution for it, really. Even if faced with a do-or-die situation, I'm unsure I could view another living thing as simply a target to be shot.

Chris Kyle could.

The ability to detach might have caused problems with his marriage, and created challenges with his own emotional health. But Kyle's skill and abilities saved the lives of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in the Middle East.

It's said that those who can do, and those who can't teach. Or, as in this case, those who can't write about it on a film blog.

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Boyhood

Although I didn't write about all of them here -- trying to maintain a movie blog in the days of Facebook and Twitter feels peripheral and quaint, after all -- I saw some tremendous movies in 2014.

Some were great popcorn flicks (I am Groot!), others tear-jerkers ( We are Groot ), and some movies were funny as hell (He said that he may be an... "a-hole", but he's not, and I quote, "100% a dick").

Well, just trust me . . .  I saw more than one movie in twenty-fourteen.

The best of the bunch, however, was Boyhood.

Richard Linklater's Boyhood is, literally, a coming of age story. Filmed with the same cast over a twelve year period, the audience watches Mason Evans, Jr. grow from a 6-year-old child into a man. We're granted an intimate, inside-the-family perspective -- we become the aunt or uncle watching little Mason celebrate and struggle through the milestones of life.

Boyhood will be remembered as an epic achievement in film- mostly because it was filmed over a long period of time. But that's just a gimmick; that alone isn't what makes this movie great.

The movie is great because Linklater patiently and honestly explores the small moments of Mason's boyhood. As we all know, it is those small moments that make us  the adults we become.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Interstellar

Early reviews for Interstellar have generally been positive, but varied. The Christopher Nolan flick been called "sentimental" and "thrilling", "clunky" and "epic." Like many movies of this scope, Interstellar has its hits and its misses.

Where it doesn't miss? It tells one hell of a story!

Despite its ambition, Interstellar stays focused on the narrative. It doesn't allow special effects -- there are plenty, and they are cool -- or the characters to overshadow the story. The story is told so well the audience can feel the emotional bond between pilot-turned-farmer Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and Cooper's daughter, Murphy, even though the two have few scenes together after the first act.

Nolan's epic -- and it is an epic -- may be flawed. But those flaws are forgiven.

Interstellar is just that damn good.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Gone Girl

From Se7en, and on through Fight Club, Panic Room, and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I've admired the work of David Fincher. His stripped down, stark, in-the-moment narration keeps me riveted to the screen, captivated by the story.

Gone Girl was no different.

Fincher's raw, in-your-face storytelling reminds viewers that we humans have dark, sinister places deep within our souls. And way too often -- to get what we want, especially -- we go there, despite how our actions might affect others. Even others we are supposed to love.

Affleck is fine in his role as Nick Dunne, and Rosamund Pike is brilliant as Amy. But it's the structure of the film, along with the visual tone set by Fincher, that gets the flick across.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Edge Of Tomorrow

It took me about a decade to earn my first degree from Marshall University. There were some legitimate reasons for the delay: I changed my major three times in the first four years, and took a semester off here and there to work. With hindsight, however, it's clear there was  one primary reason for my slacker behavior:

The video game arcade housed in the university Student Center.

It will make little sense to Millennials, but in the mid-1980s one had to travel to an arcade (while carrying a pocket full of quarters) to play one's favorite video game. The university arcade had all the games: Pac-Man, Tron, Donkey Kong, pin-ball machines, foosball. Whatever your taste, it was there for a quarter.

And I spent my quarters on Commando.

Super Joe, the soldier who kicks ass and takes names in the world of Commando, gets airdropped into the jungle and has to shoot and grenade his way past enemy soldiers to complete his mission. Commando progressed through increasingly difficult levels. Players became experts at Commando by playing it over and over again, learning from each failure to advance another level.

The formula was always the same: Drop a quarter, get shot and lose a Super Joe, remember the pattern of the enemy specific to that level and space, drop another quarter and don't make the same mistake again.

I spent a lotta time as Super Joe. I recall once skipping a History final exam so that I could keep riding the great game I was having. (Like I said, I wasn't the most dedicated of students.)

Edge Of Tomorrow reminded me of those days as an undergraduate, plopping in quarter after quarter for a new Super Joe. Major William Cage, the character played by Tom Cruise, lives the last 48 hours of his life hundreds of times as he tries to save the planet from an alien invasion. Learning from each experience, Cage lives, dies, and repeats until he finally gets it right. The flick was surprisingly fun to watch. Dramatic and complete with appropriate moments of humor, Edge Of Tomorrow kept my attention and had me craving more.

I'm just thankful I didn't have to miss a History final exam to watch it.



A Million Ways To Die In The West


I've discovered Way To Die # 1,000,001: Sitting through the entire 135 minute runtime of this Blazing Saddles wannabe.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

When The Game Stands Tall





Too little passion
Caviezel speaks in whisper
Throughout the whole flick

Still . . .

I choked up a bit
At Chris Ryan's late game stand
Brotherhood trumps self


Sunday, August 03, 2014

The Other Woman

An open letter to Mark King, the cheating husband who serves as the comic foil for leading ladies of the film:


August 3, 2014


Dear Mr. King,

After spending nearly two hours with your wife, Kate, I have to say:

I understand.


Sincerely,
The Film Geek

Friday, August 01, 2014

Guardians Of The Galaxy




Back in the mid-70s, when comic books cost a quarter and stories were thirty - plus pages long, I'd buy a dozen or more each Saturday from the Ben Franklin and spend an entire afternoon reading.

The X-Men. Hulk. The Avengers. The Defenders. Tons of DC stuff. The fantasy world of comics was intoxicating; I read any and every title I could get my hands on.

Except Guardians Of The Galaxy.



Because I didn't like the first few issues of the comic,  I plunked down my two-bits for other titles. My memory  of the first run of that comic -- summed up pretty well as "Meh,"  -- made me doubt I'd enjoy this flick.

Boy, was I wrong.

James Gunn's space opera wastes no time drawing the audience into the story of Peter Quill. Quill loses his mother to cancer and gets abducted by space pirates within the first few minutes of the film. What follows is 115 minutes of pure popcorn fueled adrenaline. Guardians is a balanced blend of melodrama, romance, suspense, humor, action, 80s pop songs, and references to Kevin Bacon.

And it's the most fun I've had watching a Marvel flick since The Avengers.