Friday, December 28, 2012

Blessings #30

Ume - Phantoms (2012)

Some music just shreds. Guitar bleeding through the membrane in fiery display that leaves you pasted to the floor, so sore that it's impossible to move, to rise up through the stratosphere until a dark energy is revealed and sucked into your lungs with total ambition, with arms spread wide in order to wrap around the world, take it into a bear embrace that feels like the earth will crumble into dust, scattering to the farthest reaches of the universe as seen through the eyes of resolution, a peace that resounds thoroughly through your skull in a throbbing resonance that feels good, dammnit! Not pain but utter blessed joy reverberating across the strings with full abandonment. It's a love affair with music that blasts you, that makes you numb with its undeniable force and you fall into a deep appreciative meditation. We all need to go there every now and then.

Moneyball - Bennett Miller (2011)

When I was a kid I had a million baseball cards. Every year I would buy boxes of cards from Price Club and open every pack with enthusiasm. I memorized each picture and read all the stats on the back until I had a thorough understanding of every player from every team. The doubles were tossed back in the box and then I categorized all the cards by position and then shuffled them to create teams through random selection. I was ten years old and already playing fantasy baseball. I was a stat-head. It seemed so interesting to me to see how the teams fared by combining the stats of the starters along with the supplemental stats from the bench players. It was pretty involved and though it seems crazy to imagine that I used to do that every day after school, it was totally logical to me at the time. I supposed that if I had done the smart thing and went to college to study statistics, then I could have gotten a job with a baseball franchise to help them analyse the progress and potential of players. Then after many years working in the dark corners of florescent rooms, a shift would have happened in how the game of baseball was played. Then a book would have been written and somehow, Brad Pitt of all people would have made a movie about my life. In that fantasy of mine all that I really want is for the movie to be as excellent as this one. Well, maybe that's not all that I would want.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blessings #31

Bobby Womack - Bravest Man In The Universe (2012)

Deep in the heart of each person there lives a saint. This extraordinary being has the ability to see the potential outcome of any action and therefore responds in order to create value from any situation. Every decision made by the saint opens the heart, expanding the home until a precious beauty may be perceived. In another cavern there resides a demon that licks flames and embraces pain. This destructive force views each action through the lens of greed and hatred for the other. Thus, the choices made by this terrible presence is meant to consume until the home in which it lives crumbles into dust. These two forces, toward unlimited potential or absolute destruction, are constantly at war with one another and with each decision in life, depending on which being prevails, we either grow into dynamic human beings or we contribute to the devastation of the planet.

Rango - Gore Verbinski (2011)

There are some movies that are just supposed to be fun. Kids movies and so many of the films that reach the multiplexes fall into this category. Whether they actually are geared for family fun, such as a Disney film, or they fall under some other simplified genre film that isn't interested in pushing creative limits, most of these movies are pretty terrible. Even some of the movies that I thought were so great in my youth fail in so many ways now that they're perceived through my more mature lens. The main problem I see is that so many filmmakers think that fun equals dumb and if it's a film geared for family entertainment then it needs to fit into some simplified formulaic box that we've all come to recognize...and despise, at least in my case. But there are some really good filmmakers out there who are always trying to push boundaries, to be imaginative and provide entertainment that is truly something for the entire family; fun for kids and smart enough for adults. Gore Verbinski is one of those directors and Rango is one of those films. The plot follows a pet chameleon, voiced by Johnny Depp, who stumbles into many harrowing situations and must somehow find the courage to persevere through to the heroic end. Yeah, it may sound a bit formulaic but Depp brings his quirky attitude to give Rango a weird presence that matches his strange visage. It's definitely something different and it's refreshing to find yourself surprised by many aspects of the film, so that by the time you reach the generic ending you've discovered that you had a lot of fun getting there.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Blessings (Primer)

It's the time of year to reflect, to take a look at all the fortune we have, to appreciate the many blessings that come our way. Perhaps that's the reason we are so eager to give to those who have given us so much over the years; such as friendship, guidance, support and happiness. It's a time to cast away all the misgivings we had over the past year and prepare ourselves for something new. Every day is a beginning and as the Earth departs upon a new cycle, may each moment provide many wonderful blessings.

Every year we are inundated with abundance. Music fills the air and films immerse us in new worlds. These media help us gain new perspective on life and provide much needed entertainment. Let's celebrate these amazing achievements! I want to promote the incredible artistic endeavors that really connected with my life in profound ways. Here's to the directors, musicians, actors, artists who shape our culture. May they always bless us with their powerful display.

Jens Lekman - I Know What Love Isn't (2012)

There's an anxiousness that resides in love, hiding in the fringe of each furtive kiss, each tender caress. What if this was not meant to be? How long until we can't stand to touch one another, until every action is based on disdain? When will the pain come? On "I Know What Love Isn't" Jens Lekman writes about what happens on the other side of love. Relationships fail all the time but nowhere in pop music do we ever hear that perspective. Lekman, with his quirky attitude and wicked wit pulls us into a realm we never thought we'd appreciate. He sings of finding someone better and selfishness with a lighthearted tone that tries to carries us above the clouds, so that we no longer have to view the ugliness cast down below. He's a crooner, with a voice that hearkens the sweet calling. He's got that Sinatraesque spirit that's so hard to dislike. So why don't we embrace it and remember that there are two sides to every coin. No matter how it lands, we have the ability to come up singing.

The Machinist - Brad Anderson (2004)

Brad Anderson is one of those directors that never gets enough credit. You never see him nominated for awards or presented with accolades. His films never climb to the top of the charts. He's not recognized for an iconic moment that defines an era. His name can easily be confused with any other American director that came out of Hollywood sometime in the past year, decade or whenever. He's an everyday sort of person in so many ways but he also makes really good films. And if you start asking around, you'll see that so many people actually understand that. One thing I truly appreciate about him as a filmmaker is how he doesn't simply make the same type of film over and over again. What I mean by that is that he tries many different genres; thrillers, romantic comedies, psychological horror. Yet, there's no blending across the lines with one certain style that defines his films. No, whatever genre he attacks is completely unique compared to anything else he puts his hand to and all of them have developed into a good product. "The Machinist" is no different. It's a story that we often see in movies. A guy is living in some crazy nightmare that is causing his worldview to become distorted and twisted until we reach our famous climactic moment of resolve. But aren't we always sold some cheap goods in these films? The protagonist is losing his mind and we just go along for the ride without realizing the purpose of this little jaunt, with no real explanation for his delusion. It's usually some sadistic narcissistic patriarchal bullshit that we've all come to accept in one form or another. I simply must say that it is so refreshing to get a film of this nature where the protagonist is going crazy for a legitimate reason. Suffice to say "The Machinist" is one of the best offerings that we have in the genre of psychological horror that you are going to find out there. Plus, it has a skinny Christian Bale acting his ass off. How did he not get nominated for this film? Oh, right, the Academy doesn't know anything about this Brad Anderson character.

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