Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Jul
0

A Dark Day for the Dark Knight

Warning: unpopular opinion below.

No, I haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises. I did see The Dark Knight after hearing so much about how great it was. But I remember feeling worse for the wear. No matter how well-made a movie is, if it’s that dark and violent I just don’t leave feeling like it was a good experience.

Before I wrote this I did a little research to make sure that Rises was as violent as it’s predecessors, and I found that indeed it has “a disturbingly high body count (which) is achieved via massive explosions, kidnappings, neck breakings, shootings, and hand-to-hand combat. While there’s not a lot of actual blood, there’s tons of death and mass destruction.” Check.

After the Aurora theater mass murder the NBC group of networks (among others) pulled all trailers for The Dark Knight Rises because they felt it was inappropriate to have images of gun violence from the movie run alongside news stories about the real-life massacre. Warner Bros. pulled trailers for the upcoming movie Gangster Squad that showed gunmen shooting up a crowded movie theater. Hmmm….

Imagine there were fancy cameras in that Aurora theater. And a film crew. And some dramatic lighting. And a fog machine. Maybe someone to yell “action” before James Holmes came through the door in a gas mask with his arsenal. Imagine it was all caught on film from interesting angles and spiced up with some loud sound effects and thematic music. Would you pay $12 to go see it?

Why not? It’s the same thing we are flocking to theaters to see. “Cool” might as well mean “violent”. Most would say that they wouldn’t go see it because people actually died, not because of the violence itself. The violence itself is perfectly fine, as evidenced by the $249 million the movie raked in over the weekend (and the hundreds of millions more it will make in the coming weeks) despite being marred by a massacre and much of its advertising being pulled.

So why is popular entertainment filled with so much gratuitous violence? Does it have to be that way? If they made a Batman movie just as stylish without glorifying violence would it be as popular?

Movie studios know about something called the lowest common denominator. The more they can appeal to the animal inside everyone by making violence seem cool, the more money they will make. What is on that screen is there because someone wants us to see it. The formula is tried and true. But as technology has advanced the depictions of violence have become more and more life-like. No one would know the difference if the scene in Colorado was filmed and edited into their favorite violent action movie. Which part inside of us is attracted to watching this? I don’t think it’s the good part.

Across the country people were bringing 6-year-olds to midnight showings of The Dark Knight Rises to watch “massive explosions, kidnappings, neck breakings, shootings… death and mass destruction”. One of them lost their life. A lot more were injured, and not just in Colorado. And not just 6-year-olds.

May
0

One Life is not Enough

My TO-DO list grows faster than I can check things off. When I walk into a Barnes & Noble the wide-eyed excitement I feel inevitably gives way to a bit of desperate apprehension when I realize that I will never be able to read every book that I want to. I hate sleeping. Such a waste of time. I only do it because if I don’t I’ll be able to get even less done the next day. I have so many ideas. Things I want to do, to learn, to teach, to create. But I never have time for it all.

24 hours in a day…
I need about 100

 

I was thinking about good story tellers. My Grandpa comes to mind (doesn’t everyone’s?). I always find myself riveted when he tells stories about he and his brothers who served our country in the Navy in World War II. Such vivid details from an understandably unforgettable experience. I will never have the same experiences he did. I can only live one life – my own. But I like hearing about his.

Probably for the same reason that people love movies so much. You can step into a theater for 2 hours, and if the film is well done you lose yourself and come out feeling like you just lived through what the on-screen characters did. I think good music does the same. It makes us feel something. It can take us somewhere. In fact, the same song can take different people to different places. And if you want to go back, you can just play the song again. And who hasn’t lost themselves in a good book? I didn’t read The Hunger Games, but if I did it would’ve been because I wanted to have the experience of fighting for my life in a post-apocalyptic survival skills tournament.

I’m thankful for music. And for movies. And books. I’m thankful for people that tell me stories and let me live part of a life that I won’t get to live. Because for me at least, one life is not enough.

every minute every second
just submitting to the pressure
sitting here sifting through the wreckage
of another stupid checklist
my burdens provoking me
feels like time is choking me
a rope necklace, so relentless
get up out of bed then off to work
I wish I could stop this clock work
take a rock and smash those hands
make them ticks and tocks hurt
see what power the hour has
after I shatter the hourglass
the sand drops…
I stand and watch

– from “Never Enough” on The Meridian of Rhyme

 

Jun
0

The Karate Kid | Retro Review

The Karate Kid All-Valley Championship

I have mixed feelings about the idea of a remake of my favorite movie of all time, but I’m going to see it. I’ll post a review, but first my thoughts on the original…

I will always remember where I was when I first saw The Karate Kid. In the living room of a friend’s house I sat stunned in a black recliner, overcome by excitement, wonder, and amazement. The year was 1986 and I was 9. I had seen movies before, probably quite a few. This was the first time one actually captivated me.

I was at just the right age for the movie to be a perfect storm. I was old enough to be emotionally involved, but not old enough to see the big payoff coming. The scene where Mr. Miyagi reveals to Daniel that the chores he had been doing were actually karate training blew my mind. I volunteered many times that summer to wash my Dad’s car. I also stained our fence, and I’m pretty sure it didn’t need it. The movie’s soundtrack provided an inspirational backdrop for many football and basketball games in my backyard – I had to buy more than one replacement cassette tape. The tournament scenes were reenacted with friends and unfortunate little brothers who involuntarily ended up playing the part of Johnny Lawrence. Thousands have created their own Daniel Larusso or Cobra Kai costumes for Halloween, and all kinds of merchandise is still made and sold on eBay. Continue Reading…