Category: Movies

Do Not Go Fast or Furious Into That Good Night

Death is always distant. We feel empathy for those that pass. But it never really touches us.

Death is a distant stranger that we grudgingly respect.

I’ve watched The Fast and The Furious since its inception in 2001. I’ve watched every move since –  with Tokyo Drift being the black sheep in the family.

I was Fourteen years of age in 2001. It has been 14 years since the first film. A long time in any language.

Adrenaline inducing action and pyrotechnics, all elements of a compelling   visual thrill.
All these elements are ancillary – secondary –  to why I enjoy The Fast and Furious franchise.

The idea of family, loyalty, companionship and camaraderie are the real soul of these films.
The chemistry between the cast has always been the highlight.

Hidden between moments of intense action and violence there are moments of reprieve. It is in these moments… that the film truly shines, because it is here that the familial love they share shines the brightest

When death occurs in the family, it is never glossed over. It has always been given the required gravitas.

When you’ve been a fan of an art  for 14 years. When you’ve seen the Artists’  growth and evolution,  the lives of the  characters they portray. They begin to occupy a space in your consciousness; and by virtue: gains sentience. They come to life.

As those characters are given life, you being to  realise, the artists that portray them come alive as well.

When those artists have passed, their passing brings forth more than empathy. When the artist dies, his death is two-fold, because the character goes with him.

Though you may not have known them, their essence has been distilled – immortalised – in their art. An art I have consumed over the span of fourteen years.

It is through the appreciation for the art and the artists that I write this.

I can still recall my first time going to see this Film :

As I ascended the short flight of stair to the theatres box office.

I passed a set of Cars, looking like NASCAR’s. I still remember the rumble of their engines.

I recall the smell of the fumes from their exhaust and the minor irritation the fumes caused to my eyes.

But, most of all, I recall the rush of adrenaline just before I collected my ticket  – with friends – to see the First: The Fast and The Furious

Rest In Peace: Paul Walker

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Forged with Steel…Yet the Man remains

What is strength without honour? What is Power without Morals? What is Authority without compassion?

The Hero.

The new superman film: Man of Steel. Takes a new direction with an old but beloved character.
I have seen the superman origin story many times. Whether from an animated film or from a movie. However this is the first time that I felt it was treated and presented as a Bildungsroman.

The fact that the first half of the movie did not solely focus on how superman came into existence, is instantly new and satisfying.

What the director has done is to weave the story of Clark the boy on his journey to becoming Clark the man. You see the choices he has made along the way. You see the tragedy that he has to endure, the human struggle that he undergoes.

It is only when you have seen Clark’s growth into a man. That you are allowed to see him as more than a man. Only then, is he presented as the hero he is meant to be.
The psychology of the character was explored intensively. As the story seamlessly moves from the present to the past. With a creative and unobtrusive use of flashback, you never get a sense that your immersion in the film is broken.

At the end of his journey of growth.  You realise that the Man of Steel. Is more Man than Steel.
What made superman a flat character – in my eyes – is the complete inoculation of human weakness’.

Gone are the days of the square-jawed Olympian blessed by Ares. No longer do we have a hero unwavering in his choices. Faultless in his action. Existing as the moral equivalent and physical embodiment of innocence.

What we see is a man and a hero, that struggles with his choices, feels pain, anger and rage. A man has been given the emotional and mental fortitude to cope; from the love of his parents and the choices he has made on his journey to becoming a man.

The Villain.

I do not wish to draw comparisons for General Zod. Unlike previous iterations of the character. He actually looks and acts like the warrior that he is meant to be.

What we have in Zod is not a case of man driven to do good or bad. But the story of a man who lives in the grey area in between these two choices.

It is the tale of a man whose sole purpose of existing, is to protect and ensure the longevity of his people, his race.

When you have the fate of an entire world resting on your shoulders. Your every decision matters.
But what happens when you have limited choices?

Zod is the archetype for a dead world with antiquated ideals and anachronistic beliefs.
Zod is a man forced into his role from birth. His every breath is predicated on the well-being of his people. He was engineered to be the man that we are presented.
In this…he is the foil for Clark. With every choice Clark makes to shape the man he has become. We see in Zod the absence of those choices.
We see a man who did not journey to adulthood, meandering along his path. But a man who’s role and choices in life were decided for him before he was even conceived.
When his home planet is destroyed, his aim, his reason for being. Is to restore what has been lost.

His only choices: Victory… or death!

The resolution.

The climax of the film has Superman doing something I have never in living memory seen a Superhero display. It might have been suggested, it may have been hinted at through context clues. But never has it been so explicitly depicted
I am not praising the act. Indeed it isn’t what is ideal. However, Superman in this film does not live in an ideal world. There is the way things should be, the way you want them to be and the way things are.

What superman did solidifies within my mind: His humanity and the flaws that embodies that existence.

Flawed though he may be, it his anguish at having to be forced to make this choice. That creates in your mind that idea that he is still a hero. We saw it when his father died, and we saw it again near the end of the film.
When placed in a position of placing the needs of the many over the needs of a few. He steps up and fulfills the needs of the many.

Being a Hero then, is not about the power you wield. But about the choices you make.
In a world that is fluid those choices may not be black or white but in varying shades of grey.

TLDR? Man of Steel is one of the best superman films I have seen. If you have not seen you’re missing out!

To reiterate, life is all about choices..I hope you will make the right one and go see this movie.

Moon Touched

J. J. Abrams. A name that has now solidified itself within my consciousness as a man with a vision. I cannot tell you what that vision is; however, I know he has one.
He has done what many directors have failed to do with sequels of late – except for The Dark Knight . Create a film that is far and away better than its predecessor.

Star Trek into Darkness is a product of a man with a vision, talent and great respect for great source material.
I am not a movie critic. I cannot begin to presume to be able to accurately and effectively critique the subtle nuances of a film. I am no Roger Ebert.
I can, however, with limited scope and boundless fervor; write a minor ode for a work of art that was obviously a labour of love.

Star Trek into Darkness.

A film that I had no great expectations for. In an age where capital gain over shadows artistic expressions. Star Trek into Darkness has given me renewed faith that a director can respect his source material. That he can get actors who mirror his respect and whom are talented enough to portray the emotions, the passion and the depth of feelings so vividly and viscerally.
That Jaded Though I am, It invoked in me pathos.

It is my empathetic reaction to this film that serves as the first highlight and one of the many achievements for this second iteration of a beloved franchise.
J. J. Abrams has managed to create a film where:

The characters are very well-rounded. They have a history, a past and a future. That shapes who they are, who the have been and who they will be.

There are not many moments in a film where two male characters can share a poignant moment. inundated  with mutual respect and camaraderie. Separated by the proverbial divide as they convey these feelings. With an hand outstretched; palm resting on the harsh and cold barrier of reality. They stare face to face with the rider and his pale horse.

“When death immortal rides his pale horse into the night…
[A] [young] man sits mourning, his head against a marble stone
The glint of steel in his hand, what thoughts are in his head?
An old owl sits on a cold tomb, and watches in silence, alone
Through the tears you feel his pain, will morning find him dead?”
Jackson, Bob. “The Pale Horse.” Poetry Lovers Page. Poetry Group, n.d. Web. 25 May 2013.

Visually:

The film is impressive and futuristic. While at the same time maintaining an atmosphere that hints at the possible progress of contemporary society. Such that suspending one’s disbelief is effortless. Which creates a high level of immersion.
Another shock, and a definite Kudos for J. J. Abrams. The man actually put 3D into a 3D film.
Before Star Trek into Darkness. 3D occupied the same space in my mind as sightings of the Lock Ness Monster: Mythical.

Khan.

A name that is undoubtedly and irrevocably linked with a man of drive, passion, charisma and a singularity of focus to achieve great things.
Benedict Cumberbatch brought a screen presence that lives up to and does justice to his eponym.
With a rich and evenly modulated cadence. Benedict wove the character of khan with needles of ivory and threads of harmonious symphonies. Such that he is perpetually cloaked in an aura of power, authority and violence.

Does a voice make the man? Or doth a man the voice make?
When Khan speaks, it is like listening to a live, posthumous performance of Luciano Pavarotti’s Caruso.
Needless to say, the man had an epic voice.

These might seem like trivial things. Indeed, they might be. However, I did not want to spoil the film. Nor did I want to do a “traditional review.”
What I hope I have conveyed. Is just how well rounded and entertaining a film J. J. Abrams has created.
As I said before. I am not a film critic. So those with the scholastic aptitude to do so. Are free to disagree.
But I loved this film.

In the end. It was the only time the Theatre audience did not applaud.
Significantly. It was the only time I was disappointed that they did not do so.

If J. J. Abrams has not interested you as a director with film.
The man has been signed on to direct both Portal and Half-Life. (Source IMDB)
Forgive me if I hyperventilate at the thought of what Glados will manipulate him into doing.
With Star Trek into Darkness. I am loathe to think that the cake is anything but the truth.

Third time’s a Charm

Iron man III. While I KNEW it would be the worst of the summer block busters this year. I was cautiously optimistic. After all, I am the Jaded Optimist.

I thought it would be the worst. Solely because I hold what I have seen of the other signature summer block busters to be of high quality. And Unlike Iron Man. I have no expectations of the general path the plot/events should follow.  Therefore, I thought it would be bad in comparison. I didn’t think I would not like the film.

That being said.While there are many things I can criticise. I can honestly say Robert Downey Jr brought his signature charismatic portrayal of Tony Stark; and it was entertaining as always.
However there are a few key points of the movie where I felt it was like playing catch with a blind man. So when I say they dropped the ball, I doubt I need say more.

Ps: Spoilers Below….Seriously.

First Key point the ruined:

How can you take one of the key Villains of Iron man: The Mandarin. And Turn him into a caricature. A sad and pale – although slightly amusing – imitation of himself. He should have been the Ra’s al Ghul to Tony’s Batman. He should have been the geniusly sadistic villain with an superannuated sense of honor; that is only matched by his preternaturally avant-garde power set.

Not a “down on his luck” aging stage actor. That agrees to stand in for the real villain. On the promise of drugs and sex. That seems to exemplify his very existence. To say the tone the trailers
set towards the Mandarin were grossly disappointing in reality. Would be a euphemism that would be criminal to utter.

Second Key point ruined:

Extermis: To give a little back ground. Extremis was a solution that was supposed to re write your brains repair centre and allow for a controlled development of physical traits in the patient. In this case superhuman enhancements.

To ground this in reality. It is like they completed the research on stem cells and perfected its application. In such a way that if you were to be Injected with said ‘solution’ your body would be break down then go through a butterfly esque evolution. And upon your emergence, whatever abilities they programmed in the ‘solution’ before they gave it to you. You would now have.

Tony used extremis to cut the processing lag between him and his suit. So that he could operate it as an extension of himself. And not as a tool (Not in the movie by the way)

So when I see they have reduced Extremis to creating heat. At temperatures that the human skin and organs cannot sustain. Enough to act as a superheated cutter for Tony’s suit. The equivalent of which would be to give a virgin scientist some viagra, give him the soubriquet: Hulk. And watch as he magically shattered continents with each placement of his loafer shod feet. While singing Omlette du fromage ( which turns out to be number one on the Billboard Hot 100).

Third Key point Ruined:

The Iron Man Armor. Iron man is called Iron man because of his armor. Shocking right?
The running gag of the move? Tony falling out of his armor…or the armor falling off of him.
It got to the point, where I thought if he sneezed while wearing it. It would shatter like crystal.

Symbolically, at the end, Tony no longer seemed to need the armor. Symbolised by him throwing away the iconic core/Arch reactor in his chest. Needless to say..Tony never…never leaves his technology just lying around for others to take and or modify.

This point was exacerbated. By his choice to destroy all his armors. The visual result of which created a firework effect for each armor respectively.

Yes… I said fireworks. And no I do not jest. Nor am I employing my penchant for hyperbole.

Among all the other things I mentioned. This is what killed the movie for me.

To have created a Suit of Armor. That can with-stand a blow from the hammer of Thor. …a Norse Deity… a ‘god’. That can protect him from blows from the Hulk. Survive in space -and if the Avengers movie was to be believed – survive in a Black Hole. To have said suit or armor/s be destroyed so effortlessly, with all the ‘drama’ – I use this loosely – and visual heat signature of a firework. Is pathetically asinine.

This is exacerbated when you are shown normal containers – the 40ft kind – exploding like a match dropped in a large tank of crude oil. With visual effect adjustments from Michael Bay.
I do not know who directed this film or if he is even to blame. But clearly someone did not read his source material.

Why is that HBO series’ adapt – even with changes for visual media – damn near perfectly from its written source. But triple ‘A’ blockbuster movies that cost millions if not billions of dollars to make; can not do the same.

Aside from the expectations that I listed above. The movie can be enjoyed. You need not hold it to the obviously ‘high’ standards that I do. Honestly, I hope you enjoy what is the first summer movie of 2013. I certainly didn’t.

The Jaded Optimist

Man of Steel poster

It has been a while since my brain has short circuited from cognitive palpitations.
But, I must confess, the new Superman film has me shaking with unreserved excitement.

I have just seen the latest Trailer:

I know that a trailer is never always a positive or truthful compendium of a films worth.
There have been numerous time in which I have been excited for a film; by virtue of its trailer. Only to have my excitement and optimism dashed against the sun bleached rocks of reality.

I remember seeing the trailer for Aeon Flux. Then Rushing to the theatre to see it when it was released. You cannot imaging the pain in my soul when it was revealed to me; the trailer was composed of the only interesting scenes in the movie.

So while I am aware I should be cautiously excited. I have thrown caution to the winds. Like a virgin seeing a pudendum for the first time.

Why am I so excited?

I will be the first to admit that I have not followed directors to influence which movies I watch. However, of late, I find this method to be increasingly successful.

One of the main reasons I am interested in this film is due to Christopher Nolan; the director of “The Dark Knight” trilogy. I found his interpretation of that universe to be incredibly character driven. While he isn’t the director of “Man of Steel” (he is the producer). Any influence he has on a film is better than none (not to discount the director of course).

Already “Man of Steel” is shaping up to be more than: “over powered hero wows world, saves the day and barely messes up his designer coiffure. While turning back time should anything go wrong,or anything to prevent him from sleeping with his love interest”.

Clark seems to be more human. I realise the irony of the statement. However, previous iterations of superman had Clark being “alien Buddha”. He never lied – don’t quote me on this- always did the right thing, always willing to help, etc. While this demonstrates all the admirable traits we want in a hero. It makes for a flat and boring character. So I am hoping things have changed for the better on this score.

One other main reason why I am so intrigued. Is due to the fact that… – and wait for it- there is no Kryptonite in the film. I have always found it a tad contrived how someone as powerful as Superman, can be rendered useless by a piece of rock no larger than a penny. Obviously, had it been needed in large quantities; I would not mind. Moreover, Kryptonite is supposed to be a “rare” mineral. Seeing as it is not from Earth. Would have travelled from so far away, that not much of it should be on Earth in the first place. Yet, every dog – Lex – and his uncle seems to pick up Kyrptonite; like your adolescent son picks up rocks to throw at anything that moves.

I think it is also important to mention. That I am also excited that Superman no longer wears his bright crimson underwear …on the outside of his outfit. The redesign of the suit- that bears a similar resemblance to the material use for the suit for “Amazing Spider-man – no longer has superman wearing is underclothes on the outside. It may seem like a trivial thing.

However, that suit needed to have a redesign ages ago. A grown man should know the order of dressing himself (especially when he is a highly visible social persona). Imagine you child’s new obsession being superman. Then demanding to wear brightly coloured underwear over their jeans to replicate his image?

Man of Steel is to be released sometime in June. Out of all the super hero movies to be released this year. I am cautiously optimistic that Man of Steel will be the best among them.
Hopefully, you all have a interest in seeing it in the theatres.
Ciao! ( I am tempted to quote Reborn on this)

What’s in a name?

Over the years many actors have donned the moniker of Bond; the latest being Daniel Craig. While Bond always oozes a suave, debonair personality that seems to be a potent solvent for ladies underwear- as they seem to fall at his slightest jester- He – Bond- isn’t the focus today. Neither are solvents for ladies underwear. Just to be clear.

What then is the focus if not bond. What else could be interesting enough incite me to write if it isn’t about the titular character ?
If you know Bond and, If – like me – you have seen almost all the old films cutesy of 28 days of Bond on TBS – something I never missed. Then you know all (older) Bond films have one great thing in common. That – of course – isn’t bond. That thing being: Connotative names for his female supporting star.

I do not know the social milieu of the 60s; but I assume if they were socially conservative. Then seeing the names of the Bond women must have been like going to the park on a sunny day and catching a young couple in the middle of an impromptu performance of ” Is it in yet?” or as its more popularly known: “Three minutes is not enough”
The first Bond lady and – perhaps – the most memorable is no other than Ms. Pussy Galore; played by one Honor Blackman .

honor-blackman-pussy-galore_0

When I first saw Goldfinger – at what tender age I cannot remember- my vocabulary was not as it is today. Consequently, the only word I recognised was “Pussy” – needless to say, I know you understand why. I am sure I was secretly smug in seeing this interesting feat of appellation. However, later on I learnt the meaning of ‘Galore’. It was then, that the true genius of this name dawned on me. You may find it risque or crude. I say it’s – wait for it!! – Pure gold!

Think about it? What would have gone through your mind if you walked into a room and saw a beautiful woman. You stroll over and say:

“The name’s Bond… James, Bond”

She looks at you, raises a neatly coiffured brow and responds:

“The name’s Galore… Pussy, Galore”

As the silence stretched on, and as your brain decided to reclaim its space in your head from is place on the floor.
Perhaps, you would respond: “Ahh, how nice to meet you Pussy… I mean Ms Galore. I do look forward to spending some time.. in.. your company”

The second Bond lady we will speak of. Is no less stunning in form or appellation than our first. She- however- has the honour of being a titular character of the film. Her name: Octopussy. Played by one Maud Adams.

721420_orig

If you are like me – traumatic as that realisation may be – you would begin to notice a pattern here. And seeing as how I am most unlike myself today. I would love for you to tell me what that pattern is; but I digress.

By the time I watched Octopussy. I must confess, my mind did not dwell in a perpetual state of connotative meanings and their relations. However, now I am forced to wonder if the name ‘Octopussy’ has anything to do with someone called Kegel and her capacity to flex. To quote the popular meme, with my own twist: “Do you even grip?”

Octopossy_Maud

The fourth Bond lady that we will discuss is Dr Holly Goodhead, Ms Goodhead;  played by one Lois Chiles.  the film: Moonraker.

Lois Chiles playing Dr Holly Goodhead

After being introduced to Ms Goodhead. I think I would be in urgent need of a chiropractor. I am told my jaw occupying a permanent place at my feet is hardly natural.

The age of digital marketing is new to us. Being pioneered by social platforms like Facebook and Twitter. However, whomever named Ms Goodhead was ahead of his time – and should be revered by his peers. Because, it is quite honestly, one of the best methods of marketing I have ever encountered. Who would have thought Ms Goodhead , was a so talented an ‘orator ‘ that she needed an epithet. If nothing, after seeing this movie, I am sure Bond was a fan of ‘rhetoric’ especially with ‘orators’ like Ms Goodhead.

The final Bond lady we will discuss as our time together draws to a close. is none other than …..
Ms Goodnight. Ms Mary Goodnight. Played by one Britt Ekland. The film: The man with the Golden Gun.

britek

In the greater scheme of things, her name is quite subtle. At least, it is in comparison to the others we’ve looked at thus far. Especially for those of you who lack a robust appreciation for connotative puns. Or who are so innocent – naive – that they see nothing connotative about her name in the first place.
Ms Goodnight represents another brilliant piece of marketing. I am sure Mr Bond enjoyed watching reruns of “things that go bump in the night’ with Ms Goodnight.

All these names taken together. I can only imagine meeting Pussy Galore, then to find out about Ms Octopussy, who is related to Ms Goodhead. Ultimately culminating in having….err I mean … meeting Ms Goodnight.