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Category Archives: Emotional Awareness

Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice – review

Kal-El-symbolI’m going to start this by explaining about any review you read of a film, don’t take anyone’s word for it. There’s only going to be the slightest hint of spoilage in this review. I’m going to try and explain my opinion without revealing too much detail.

The critics of this latest DC film have been all over it, like vultures on a carcass. Well, I’m not a vulture, and the latest film directed by Zack Snyder, isn’t an old dead carcass. It’s far from that, and if you insist these iconic comic characters must conform to an older style of behavior, you’re going to be disappointed. They may resemble and look vaguely like what you remember from comics or older movies, but as suggested in this movie, this isn’t 1938.

From the moment this film starts, you’re shown images, ever so briefly of a familiar Batman childhood traumatic experience. If you saw the others, dating back to Tim Burton’s film, you know the story. This is there for a reason, and if you’re quick to criticize why it’s included, then you’re missing a larger point. I’ll explain that later. Just know this about this particular film, it’s not your Tim Burton or Christopher Nolan version of Batman. It’s also not your Richard Donner or Bryan Singer Superman movie. This is a movie that stands on it’s own, whether you like it or not, this is a solid story with bold themes and excellent cinematography. What Zack Snyder does with this movie is eschew the chains of past actors and authors. As good as Christopher Reeve was, Henry Cavill has crafted an image which he now owns. He’s not just the red – white – blue boyscout set out for truth, justice, yada-yada-yada.

After those brief introductory moments of a childhood Bruce Wayne, there’s a lot going to happen and you better set down the popcorn, and strap yourself in, because this is not only a fast journey, it’s also intense. Here’s where I really have to give credit to Zack Snyder, because he’s taken a big risk in telling a set of stories, condensed, modified, and brought together to create highly developed imagery backed by an equally intense musical score from Hans Zimmer. I’ve read the criticism, which I shouldn’t have before I saw the film; they say he combined too many story elements. This could also be viewed as part of its strength. Each of the film’s participants contributed in a meaningful way.  It’s not  a Sean Connery 007, it’s more like a Daniel Craig film.

BVS_confrontation_smallZack Snyder wants you to understand this film on several levels. Sure, there’s the obvious titled physical confrontation between Batman and Superman, but he’s introducing us to the idea there’s a lot more to this world than just one or two exceptional people. Batman being the least among equals, possessing no super powers, his role is a subset of the entire movie. An excellent subset I might add, because Ben Affleck nails his dual role.

The introduction of Wonder Woman in this movie, isn’t news to the audience, or a way just to introduce another meta-human. She’s integral to the plot, and if you look at these players, as individuals, not just a timed screen presence, you can see the most interesting aspects of this drama.

Allow me to step back for a writers moment. Just accept this as a way of explaining how well crafted this film is when you look at it in the context of graphic novels (comics). I was one of those youth who read and possessed many of the 1st Marvel Comics dating back to the early 60’s. They were imaginative and drawn in colorful action poses for the era. What attracted myself and many other young people to Marvel at that time, was the introduction of the characters having real personal problems. I’m not talking about acne or dating, they had serious character flaws, and these imperfections showed frailties and a sense of reality for the reader. DC Comics, continued to turn out strong characters, but they were barely two-dimensional. For this reason alone, I think that explains the success of the Batman TV show of the 1960’s. Even young people saw this show as stupid, cartoon characters. I think the creators saw comics as serial nonsense and decided to make fun of it through campy behavior.

For a number of decades afterwards, it seemed no created TV or film could adapt the comics essential fantasy, drama, and core plot lines, without looking plain stupid. Hats off to Richard Donner and Tim Burton for making a strong popular showing, but aside from a lack of today’s technology, they failed to transcend simple child like stories. I think the big break came when Sam Raimi introduced us to his version of Spiderman (2002). That was soon followed by Jon Favreau directing Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man (2008). Audiences went to these films in vast numbers, and for the most part, the follow up films were successful. Then, almost everyone explained frustration with the 2007 release of Spiderman 3. No longer was there a story with singular continuity of a villain. Now there were several villains, and the biggest faux pas, the brief but silly Peter Parker dance moves. Sony dropped Raimi and after a pause, rebooted that franchise. Frankly I’m more exhausted from the reboots.

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Zack Snyder and company have developed a complex drama, and taking a page out the early Marvel handbook, given us extraordinary insight on how these main characters think. Unlike simpler, earlier, graphic novels brought to film, he’s assuming there’s enough for younger people and the older comic book fan. He’s allowed the writing and fast pace imaging to weave an intelligent story. All people, no matter if they’re “super heroes” or villains have a background story. There’s recognition of the emotional complexity and the trauma of former conflicts for both protagonists. The casualties are real, not brushed away or watered down as if they don’t matter. Any active combat military veteran recognizes they don’t know all the reasons why they’re in the conflict. Each one has their own purpose for their presence in the confrontation. Even their reactions afterwards, aren’t the same. The film helps the viewer see some of that inner turmoil from each persons perspective.

Two people can share the same experience but have an entirely different reaction and memory of the events. Examining the individuals past experience, especially in their formative years, coupled with present time, gives each person a unique perspective. When you know Bruce Wayne suffers from a traumatic & turbulent childhood, Clark Kent comes from a stable Midwestern background, and Diana Prince is a much older and perhaps wiser soul, then the multiple stories coming together shared through each person’s eyes, becomes much more flavorful and interesting.

Speaking of flavorful, I’ve seen a lot of criticism of Lex Luthor as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg, and frankly I went in with the idea this is going to be another Jim Carey (Ridler) act. Wrong! Why? Once again we’re reminded of Zack Snyders revision of a very well known and established villain. This is somlex_corp_logo_signeone who is intelligent, willing to use that intelligence to intimidate and be disarming. We see the beginning of a young psychopath, with all of the money to back up his quest to humble those he feels have too much power. Oddly enough, in his own twisted mind, he can never acquire too much for himself.  If people insist on wanting a young person to play the same role the way it’s been done before, get over it, this isn’t your grandfather’s Buick.

The final confrontation is through a creation of Lex Luthor, in a last ditch effort to gain the upper hand over Superman and anyone else bold enough to get in his way. This not only creates another conflict, it opens the door to what each of these super heroes begin to realize, there are many battles which lay ahead. This is where we see Wonder Woman in her full regalia, and the theater audience cheered when she joined in. Her back story is of someone much older than either Batman & Superman, and we see snippets of how her experience has taught her to remain in the background, avoid conflict when possible, find a way to cooperate. This is another example of the sophisticated underpinnings infused throughout this film.

I give this film a 9 out of 10 stars, because of it’s sophisticated, multiple complex stories woven well together and a critical examination into the psyche of each of the main players. This isn’t your casual, short attention span film. Watch carefully and enjoy! I know I will have to go back a second time just to see how much more I can pick up from the various things hinted, as well as the main story. wonder_woman_icon.jpg

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Posted by on 27/03/2016 in Action, Actors, Aliens, Box Office, Director, Emotional Awareness, Entertainment, Fantasy, Hollywood, Icons, Movies, Plot, Popular Culture, Soundtrack, Stories, Writing

 

The Downside of Social Media

sons-of-anarchy“Charlie Hunnam is a well known actor. In 7 seasons of the television series, Sons of Anarchy, he played a tough biker struggling between living a life in which he seems destined, and wanting to be out of the club living independent with wife and family.

In Pacific Rim, he portrayed a person who operates inside a giant fighting robot, battling in a war with the Kaijus, colossal monsters arising out of the sea.pacific-rim-2

He’s gained a large fan base, but has been reserved in promoting himself through a social media presence. He has found that many of his so called fans have criticized his girl friend, to the point where he felt it was necessary to speak his mind on how disrespectful and untoward these remarks have become.

Normally I don’t reprint long statements or quotes by someone, but I think the things Mr. Hunnam said, are something everyone that interacts through the Internet should take into consideration.

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“Dear ladies of social media,

This is a message from Charlie Hunnam. I have no social media so I have asked my good friend and long time supporter Tina Lou to post this message for me.

It has been brought to my attention that there is a group of immature girls posting a large number of hard messages aimed at my long time girlfriend. I would respectfully ask you to stop doing this. She is an intelligent, beautiful, kind person who just tried to live a simple life and has nothing to do with the entertainment industry. If you want to talk shit, talk shit about me, leave her out of it. What is most confusing is that these negative and totally unprovoked attacks appear to be coming from the people who call themselves my fans. Think about the logic of this for a moment. This is a girl I love very much and have spent the last eleven years of my life with and hope to spend the next sixty years. She has been my loyal and supportive partner long before I had any success or money. Why would you attack her out of admiration for me? It makes no sense. Perhaps you might think about spending the time you dedicate on attacking her on improving the quality of your own life, as it is well known that this type of random hatred usually comes from deep rooted personal unhappiness. This about this. Also, I guarantee if you knew her you would feel very silly, as my girlfriend is one of the kindest, nicest, most virtuous people I have ever met. There is literally nothing about her or her behavior that deserves this type of condemnation.

Thank you in advance for respecting this request.

Best Wishes, Charlie Hunnam”

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American Sniper – The Movie

I went to see the movie, American Sniper Tuesday evening. Released in December 2014, it wasn’t a high priority for me, but knowing how Clint Eastwood approaches a story like this, I thought it should be on my viewing list. I received the visual experience I expected. It’s a no nonsense story of a man’s brief life who served in four tours in the Iraq War and became the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history.Bradley Cooper in American Sniper

What I also saw was a Bradley Cooper who immersed himself in the role. It can’t be easy for an actor to absorb the deportment and emotional demeanor of someone like a Chris Kyle. This isn’t a John Wayne or even a Clint Eastwood role in which the character portrays someone larger than life, charismatic, stoic, jaded, and able to give great stump speeches. Cooper packaged the role in a way where I could see someone like a Kyle, complex, saddled with the baggage of being a tougher man in a tough war, trying unsuccessfully at times, to reenter the civilian world. “I might have to tie you up with a rope and drag you behind my truck to knock some of the pretty off of you,” Chris Kyle told Bradley Cooper during their first and only phone conversation.

Kyle & Cooper American Sniper movieCooper was every bit as good at portraying Kyle as Peter O’Toole was in his role as T.E. Lawrence. I know making such a sweeping statement, might attract criticism, but what I focused in on was the tangible way Cooper brought this man to life without the underpinnings of overly dramatic acting. This is a different time for film biography, not the David Lean panoramic vistas combined with the Shakespearean influence of RADA. This is a not so embellished view of a real man serving in a war which later has been criticized as an unnecessary incursion into a highly volatile region of the globe. Combining that criticism with the moral ambiguity questions which naturally arise from this, it has given this film a less than enthusiastic endorsement from some entertainment critics. Whatever your views, this is a well acted and staged portrayal of a man whose life ended all too soon.

I didn’t receive the level of training which Kyle required in becoming a SEAL, but much of what I experienced in the Marines paralleled his boot camp experience. Our DI’s were all Vietnam combat experienced infantrymen and their training was designed to be intense enough to at least shock us 90 day wonders into something which might resemble the hardships of battle. Of course nothing they or Kyle’s trainers could do would prepare recruits for war and the toll it takes on the mind as well as the body for many who have served. Entering a branch of service which is designed to take you from your, “back on the block or farm days”, to a point where you’re willing and able to kill another human, is a gruesome business. When you can step back and look at it objectively, showing the life of one extraordinary man, then you have the basis of a good work.

Kyle entered the Navy’s elite SEAL training program after being rejected by the Marine Corps due to pins remaining in his arm from surgery after sustaining a severe injury in a rodeo event. He was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy in 2009 and wrote a bestselling autobiography, American Sniper, published in January 2012.Chris & Taya Kyle together On February 2, 2013, Kyle was shot and killed by Eddie Ray Routh at a shooting range near Chalk Mountain, Texas, along with friend Chad Littlefield. I don’t use the word alleged, because even the accused doesn’t deny the fact he committed the act. This is an ever so brief, unflinching look at a life of a man celebrated by many as a hero, but in reality is an opening act for a much longer story which likely few of us will know and have the slightest understanding.

His wife Taya Kyle along with his family will have to carry on, without the foundation they grew to rely on. New direction and life forming behavior will become part of their vista, none of which we can completely comprehend.

I recommend this film as a must see for those who aren’t necessarily going for the entertainment and aren’t there to pre-judge the disposition of the duties of a combat veteran.

 

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No Easy Road

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you do for a living. Life is more than just finding people who adore you or want to work with you.Robin Williams (R.I.P.) It gets a lot more complicated along the way.

We all carry burdens and sometimes they weigh us down more than other people recognize.

Robin McLaurin Williams
Actor, Comedian
21 July 1951 – 11 August 2014

 
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Posted by on 12/08/2014 in Actors, Addiction, Comedy, Deaths, Emotional Awareness, Entertainment, Health, Popular Culture

 

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The many faces of comedy

Do you know the one about . . . ? Well, of course not and that’s what I’m about to tell you. So begins the humorous banter of many comedians.

Comedians are known for deceiving an audience. It’s part of their trade to find ways to misinform and pull a fast one on those listening or watching. It’s even more of a send up if a supposedly serious actor manages to sneak one by us….

If fooling an audience works, why not use this device to have us all laugh at a person within the skit? Here’s a little mischief to provide us all a laugh. (a very young Rowan Atkinson)

Nicolas Cage - 2011 San Diego Comic-Con (Photo: Wikipedia)

Nicolas Cage – 2011 San Diego Comic-Con (Photo: Wikipedia)

Most of the time, an audience loves to be beguiled, but sometimes this backfires. Some entertainers are unable to understand how much the joke is about them.  “For a while there, it was the three Cs; castles, comic books and cars.” He gives me a doleful look. “I just can’t get that stuff off of me,” says Nicolas Cage: ‘People think I’m not in on the joke’. I don’t know many actors who can make the statements he does and get away with them.  (Emma Brockes – The Guardian, 19 July 2013)

His behavior hasn’t gone unnoticed and has generated numerous jokes.

Q: What does Nicolas Cage have to do in exchange for the IRS forgiving his tax debt?
A: Apologize for “Bangkok Dangerous”, “Season of the Witch”, & “Knowing”!
Q: What’s the difference between Nicolas Cage and a jug of water?
A: Water spills, Nicolas Cage takes pills.

After a difficult day on the set Nicolas Cage returns to his neighborhood and is shocked to find police and fire trucks surrounding the smoldering remains of his house. After explaining who he was he asks; “What happened?” “Well,” one of the officer’s says, “It seems that your agent came by your house earlier today and while he was here he attacked your wife, assaulted your children, beat your dog and burned your house to the ground.” The actor is struck speechless, his jaw hanging open in disbelief, “My agent came to my house? (Jokes4us.com)

Dawn French & Jennifer Saunders

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders sketch artists (photo: The Telegraph UK)

Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders, the queens of comedy. BBC Radio 2

It’s clever when the audience is fooled by the joke, good the audience enjoys a joke with us, seldom acceptable if the joke is about us.

 

 
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Posted by on 20/07/2013 in Comedy, Comics, Emotional Awareness, Entertainment, Humor, Movies, Self Awareness, Writing

 

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Moving Forward

Learning the ancient art of Slackitude?

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slack tide: Before any turn of the tide, there is a time of slack water or slack tide.

slackitude: When slackers give you attitude because they actually have to do some work they ask you for information, then when you give it to them, act put out because they have to write something down and give you slackitude.

Lethargy can be a force of resistance to “right action”. If there is a presence of lethargy, it’s difficult to follow the inspirations, within you. It’s as if your body is not being co-operative with your mind.

Set yourself free of the mindset of high anxiety living. Move from a place of fear or the lack of something in your mind. Lethargy can lead to a soul-less disconnection, misaligning your actions from your thought. It does not mean that you choose a life of detached inaction. Return to your true inner productive self by taking risks and allowing failure. Each step toward your desire to design or create means you leave the disconnected mind behind and achieve your dreams.

Some people keep busy out of a fear of inaction. In this situation the activity suggests fear of being inactive or a fear of feeling unproductive, rather than from a place of inner freedom to live your expression.

Connel Bridge

Connel Bridge is a cantilever bridge that spans Loch Etive at Connel in Scotland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 
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Posted by on 19/06/2013 in Attitude, Choice, Emotional Awareness, Goals, Health, Self Awareness

 

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