11.15.2016

Talking in Circles: A Movie Review of "Arrival" (Some Spoilers)

Amy Adams as Dr. Louise Banks and Jeremy Renner
as Dr. Ian Donnelly
Genesis chapter eleven records a story of the people of the ancient world electing to come together and build a tower tall enough to reach the heavens.  For reasons undisclosed to us mortals, God, having observed this concerted effort, which was apparently destined to succeed, scrambles communication between his peoples.  "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this," he says, "then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other" (New International Version, Gen. 11:6).  The engineer could not understand the architect.  The brick layer could not understand the engineer.  It was the last time all of humanity worked together in perfect cooperation.  It was the last time all of humanity spoke a common language.

In the story of the Tower of Babel, a universal language was clearly the key that could unlock unlimited progress, discovery, and achievement.  What if the communication of that ancient people had not been confused and discordant?  What problems could humanity have solved?  These are just two of the questions Denis Villeneuve's ""Arrival" leaves hanging in the air.

12.20.2015

Reflections on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" (Spoilers)

Readers should be informed that leading up to viewing "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" and also following its release, I have deliberately avoided reading anything about the film.  Obviously, the purpose behind this prior to the film being released is that, like many Star Wars fans, I didn't want to see any spoilers.  The biggest spoiler of all would been to hear any news as to whether J. J. Abrams had managed to resurrect the feel of the original trilogy (Episodes IV, V, and VI.)  Having felt burned by George Lucas on several points in Episodes I, II, and III, even knowing Abrams and Disney were in charge, my trust could only be earned back by a viewing of the film.  The reason I have not yet read any reviews  of "The Force Awakens" is that after having finally seen it, it is sacred to me.  I neither care nor want to know what critics think, because when it comes to this franchise - a franchise that is pretty unique in that the fans believe it belongs to them - the most important critic is the fan.

Therefore, if what you read here has been said before or perhaps even disputed, know that I do not plan on finding it out.  I have seen "The Force Awakens," I feel protective of it now, and I will not read a single review.

That being said, I am so glad you do not feel the same way, since you are reading my review.  Or rather, my reflections on the film.  A review analyzes successes and flaws alike, and I'm not here to dissect, I'm here to bask in this film's glory.

10.14.2015

"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" Extended Cut Review (No Spoilers)

Last night, across the nation, Fathom Events hosted a special early screening of "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" extended cut.  The roughly 20 minutes of new footage was enough to earn the extended version an "R" rating.  However, if you saw the original theatrical cut of BotFA or took your children to see it, you are probably safe doing the same with the extended cut.  Yes, more "classic Peter Jackson" outrageous battlefield deaths occur in the extended cut, but just the fact that they are indeed so Peter-Jackson-esque means that they are played for laughs, somewhat ridiculous, and there's no gore seen up close.  And this is "The Hobbit," after all - this is fantasy violence - orcs beating on dwarves, dwarves beating on trolls, trolls beating on elves, etc.  The MPAA chooses to stand firm on some types of content, such as long, sustained scenes of violence, therefore the "R" rating pops up despite the added scenes not much more gruesome than the theatrical cut.

9.17.2015

Geek Gear of the Week

For the die-hard Gatsby fan in your life who will totally get this somewhat obscure The Great Gatsby reference, here is a "West Egg/East Egg" necklace from Modcloth.  The charm is a clever allusion to the dichotomous cities Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby inhabit during that infamous summer... And now to decide... Who's going to wear old money versus who's going to wear new money?

Product page on modcloth.com

9.13.2015

"White God" Movie Review

I have been waiting with bated breath for six months to see Kornel Mundruczo's "White God."  You don't have to be a dog-lover to appreciate the powerful and hair-raising sight that is two hundred dogs sprinting through the streets of Hungary.  And the best part is that not a shred of CGI was used to achieve this scene.  It was the sight of this army of dogs, which I viewed in the trailer in March 2015, that intrigued me.  Knowing full well that these well-trained (and extremely photogenic, I might add) dogs were most likely part of thinly veiled political commentary, I settled in for the wait for this story to come to Netflix.

5.04.2015

Eden 2.0: A Review of "Ex Machina" (Major Spoilers)

The title of Alex Garland's film "Ex Machina" is a truncated form of the Latin phrase "deus ex machina."  The translation is "god from the machine."  The phrase conjures similar imagery to the idea of the "ghost in the machine" from Cartesian dualism, especially in the context of a film like "Ex Machina" which deals with an artificial intelligence.  The meaning is much more literal, however.  Deus ex machina refers to a device from Greek drama in which a crane (a machine) would suddenly lower an actor playing a god onto the stage, whose appearance typically provided a convenient solution to a seemingly unsolvable dilemma and wrapped everything up in a nice little package.

Most likely "Ex Machina" as the title of this film, however, was meant to carry dual meaning.  Yes, hardware or machinery is the means by which a superior being enters the stage, but there are also undeniable overtones of what it means to play god, and what happens when your creation deviates from your plans for it.

4.06.2015

"Wolf Hall" Episode 1 Review (No Spoilers, Except for Historical Facts...)

Image credit: notjustanothertvsite.com
In January of this year, BBC Two released a television adaptation of Hilary Mantel's novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, based on the Tudor period of history.  They are told from the point of view of Thomas Cromwell, who in his lifetime rose from obscurity to adviser and close confidante to the King of England.

It has felt like a very long wait for "Wolf Hall" to begin airing in the US, but it is finally here.  Episode one aired on PBS's Masterpiece segment on April 5th, and will continue to air Sunday evenings at 10/9c.

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