Take a Deep Breath and Relax December 12, 2011Posted by Matt in Christianity, movies, theology.
Tags: god, It's a Big Old Goofy World, meaning of life, the big questions, The ravings of a madman, The Tree of Life
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It’s easy for me to get lost in my own thoughts.
Oftentimes I’ll get started on a track of thought, travel a ways, then do some research and slightly change course, then do it again and again until finally my mind is in some destination it never before considered. For the past week I’ve been pondering the film we watched last Sunday evening, The Tree of Life, plumbing its depths for meaning, trying to work out the abundant symbolism.
I have all of these ideas bouncing around my head from the film, all of the big questions asked since the dawn of humankind. What is the nature of God, the divine masculine/feminine paradigm? What is the nature of existence, the connectedness of all Creation? What is the meaning of it all?
So, I thought and thought about these and other issues and about how I could write about them and perhaps get some ideas out in the open. How could I encapsulate the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything into a series of blog entries without just giving the number 42?
Maybe I’ll get around to it soon when I have time to do it some semblance of justice. For now, I needed to just rest my mind for a bit, smile and take things easy. As the great prophet John Prince said
“Kiss a little baby
Give the world a smile
If you take an inch
Give ‘em back a mile.”
My Busy Brain December 5, 2011Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: beauty, god, grace, the big questions, The Tree of Life
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Last night I had the opportunity to see Terrence Malick’s latest film, The Tree of Life, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since the credits finished rolling. It was incredible, beautiful, confusing, and ultimately an experience that defies explanation. I’ve never seen anything like it. If you have not seen it yet, I wholeheartedly endorse it, while at the same time I would warn you to not expect a traditional movie. Be prepared to confront the big questions relating to humankind: existence and meaning and God. Even now, hours later, I’m still going over and over it in my mind, trying to figure out what I witnessed.
So, my mind is too busy to come up with anything compelling to write about today. Hopefully, you’re having a good one.
Finding the Rainbow Connection August 16, 2011Posted by Matt in movies, music.
Tags: Green Album, NPR, The Muppets, Weezer
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If you were a young child in the late 70’s-early 80’s like I was, there are certain things that bring back fond, wonderful memories of unworried childhood bliss, and I reckon that one of those all-important aspects of your youth, like mine, is the muppets. How could you not love the antics of Kermit and Miss Piggie and Fozzie Bear? So, when I heard that they were bringing these characters of my childhood back to the big screen in a major motion picture to be released later this year, I was ecstatic, both for my sake and for my kids. To prepare us for this monumental event, NPR is streaming a newly recorded album of muppet favorites interpreted by some of today’s favorite music artists – Weezer, My Morning Jacket, Andrew Bird, and others – making this one of the can’t miss recordings of the year.
There’s something about the muppets and the songs that characterize them so well. It harkens back to those halcyon days of childhood, of silliness and simplicity, of wistful idealism. It transports us to a time before we were bombarded with cynicism and hate, before bottom lines and dollar signs. It’s a feeling both sad about what was lost and happy that we can still revisit it, even now as grown-ups in our lives of quiet desperation.
I must admit I teared up a bit during this version of Rainbow Connection by Weezer and Hayley Williams.
Schwing! May 21, 2011Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: clips, movies that hold up, Wayne's World
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When it comes to entertainment your tastes tend to change over time. There are things that you loved as a teenager that become laughably bad once you’ve matured to adulthood. For me this is particularly evident in my cinematic tastes. Things I thought were funny or cool 20 years ago do not usually hold the same appeal to me now as I get close to my mid-30′s. Thus, I am often hesitant to watch those films today because I don’t want to sully the memory.
One of these pieces of cinema is SNL’s 1992 hit Wayne’s World, a movie that I watched countless times as a teen, but had not seen in many years, so last night Diana and I decided to remedy that.
Yes, it’s still hilarious.
Check out some of the great scenes below.
Summer Movie Preview, Part 2 May 9, 2011Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: 30 Minutes or Less, August, Captain America: The First Avenger, Conan the Barbarian, Cowboys & Aliens, Fright Night, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, Horrible Bosses, July, Larry Crowne, Our Idiot Brother, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, summer movie preview, The Change-Up, The Help, The Smurfs, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Zookeeper
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Today we will continue our look at the upcoming summer movies. Last week we looked at some notable films set for release in May and June and today we will look ahead to July and August.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
Stars: Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whitely, Tyrese Gibson
Director: Michael Bay
Plot: Against the backdrop of the space race between the USSR and the USA, the alliance between Sam Witwicky and Optimus Prime is put to the test against a common enemy: Shockwave.
My Take: Who goes to these movies? I watched the first one, thought it was awful, and never even bothered to waste my time with the second, so naturally I’ll skip this as well.
Stars: Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts
Director: Tom Hanks
Plot: Unclear of his next steps after losing his job at a big-box retailer, Larry Crowne enrolls at his local college, where he finds a niche among the school’s community of outcasts, and a connection with a teacher who has lost her passion for life.
My Take: Tom Hanks has only sat in the director’s chair for a feature film one previous time, 1996’s That Thing You Do!, so I’m not quite sure what to expect from him here. The presence of rom-com queen Julia Roberts and the generic trailer make me queasy, though, so I’ll have to pass on this one.
Stars: Kevin James
Director: Frank Coraci
Plot: The animals at one particular zoo decide to break their code of silence in order to help their lovable zookeeper gain the attention of one particular woman.
My Take: Kevin James gets on my nerves, the director specializes in bad Adam Sandler fare, and the trailer looks truly awful. No thanks, but my kids will probably love it.
Stars: Jason Bateman, Charlie Day, Jason Sudeikis
Director: Seth Gordon
Plot: Three friends concoct a deadly plan when they realize their respective bosses are making their lives miserable.
My Take: It sounds like a promising idea, perhaps something Office Space-like, but the lack of a released trailer is a bit bothersome and could mean that the film is so unwatchable that they couldn’t put together a few scenes to make it appealing. We’ll see.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Stars: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint
Director: David Yates
Plot: The end begins as Harry, Ron, and Hermione return to Hogwarts to find and destroy the final horcruxes. But when Voldemort finds out about their mission, the battle we’ve known has been coming – Harry vs. Voldemort – looms large on the horizon.
My Take: Count me in. The ten year, 8 film series finally comes to an end this summer is what should be the cinematic event of the season.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Stars: Chris Evans, Hugo Weaving, Samuel L. Jackson
Director: Joe Johnston
Plot: After being deemed unfit for military service during WWII, Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America. His first mission: to combat the Nazi propaganda effort headed by Red Skull.
My Take: Consider me interested. Sure, the comic book adaptation market is a little oversaturated right now, but the trailer is entertaining and this could be a winner.
Cowboys & Aliens
Stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde
Director: Jon Favreau (Iron Man 1 and 2)
Plot: In Silver City, Arizona, Apache Indians and Western settlers must lay their difference aside when an alien spaceship crash lands in their city.
My Take: Awesome. Combining an excellent cast, the director of Iron Man, and screenplay writer Damon Lindelof of Lost fame, this could be one of the most entertaining experiences of the summer.
Stars: Hank Azaria, Katy Perry, Neil Patrick Harris
Director: Raja Gosnell
Plot: The little blue creatures of Smurf village more to New York City after the evil wizard Gargamel chases them out of their mushroom-like homes in the forest.
My Take: Lord, this looks terrible. Even the all-star cast doesn’t save this one for me.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Stars: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto
Director: Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist)
Plot: In present day San Francisco, a scientist looks for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease by experimenting on a chimpanzee named Caesar. The development of animal intelligence brings about a war for supremacy between humans and apes.
My Take: Is this related to the fiasco that was Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes? The presence of James Franco gives this a slight boost, but the unfamiliarity of the director leaves me a lot of questions. I’ll have to wait for the reviews.
Stars: Jason Bateman, Ryan Reynolds, Olivia Wilde
Director: David Dobkin
Plot: A family guy switches bodies with his slacker best friend in an effort to romance his co-worker.
My Take: The body-switching idea has been done so many times, that I just can’t bring myself to care. I will say, though, that the presence of Jason Bateman and Ryan Reynolds is a little intriguing.
30 Minutes or Less
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson
Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland)
Plot: Two fledgling criminals kidnap pizza delivery guy, Nick, strap a bomb to his chest, and inform him that he has mere hours to rob a bank. As the clock ticks, Nick, with the help of ex-best friend, Chet, deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.
My Take: Maybe. I loved director Ruben Fleischer’s last film, Zombieland, but I’m not sure what to make of this trailer. We’ll see.
Stars: Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer
Director: Tate Taylor
Plot: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962: aspiring writer Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan returns home after college, where unexpected friendships with African-American maids Aibeleen Clark and Minny Jackson result in a book that gives a previously unheard voice to a community’s suffering.
My Take: I loved the book, but the mid-August release date for this film is kind of a dead zone for studios, a relative dumping ground for films not big enough to make summer blockbuster money and not good enough for Oscar consideration. Director Tate Taylor has only one other full length film under his belt, Pretty Ugly People, which I’ve never seen. We’ll see, but I have the feeling this could be a huge disappointment.
Stars: Anton Yelchin, Colin Farrell, David Tennant
Director: Craig Gillespie (Mr. Woodcock)
Plot: Teenage Charley Brewster guesses that his new neighbor Jerry Dandridge is a vampire responsible for a string of recent deaths. When no one he knows believes him, he enlists Peter Vincent, the opportunistic host of his favorite TV show, to help him take down Jerry and his guardian.
My Take: Hollywood’s return to the 1980’s continues with yet another remake, this one of a quintessential vampire flick of the period. Considering the director is also responsible for Mr. Woodcock, I’m not exactly enthusiastic, but the presence of Colin Farrell could make this a little more interesting. We’ll see.
Conan the Barbarian
Stars: Jason Momoa, Ron Perlman, Rose McGowan
Director: Marcus Nispel (Friday the 13th, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (remakes)
Plot: Muscle-bound warrior Conan the Cimmerian seeks to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.
My Take: Remake king Marcus Nispel (the guy responsible for both the Friday the 13th and Texas Chainsaw Massacre remakes) is apparently ready to throw anything, even a movie bad by Schwarzenegger standards, against the wall to see if it sticks. What’s next Red Sonja? No thanks.
Our Idiot Brother
Stars: Paul Rudd, Elizabeth Banks, Zooey Deschanel
Director: Jesse Peretz (The Ex, episodes of Important Things With Dimitri Martin)
Plot: A pot bust sends nice-guy Ned to jail, and though he’s released early on good behavior, he returns home to discover that his girlfriend has left and taken his dog with her. Homeless and unemployed, he divides his time by couch-surfing at the homes of his sisters and causing chaos in each of their lives.
My Take: We’ll see. I’m hit-or-miss when it comes to Paul Rudd and director Peretz (he did The Ex and episodes of Important Things With Dimitri Martin in the past) is a bit iffy.
Thoughts? What do you want to see?
Summer Movie Preview, Part 1 May 5, 2011Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: Bridesmaids, Cars 2, Everything Must Go, Green Lantern, Hobo with a Shotgun, Kung-Fu Panda 2, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Priest, summer movie preview, Super 8, The Beaver, The Hangover Part II, Thor, X-Men:First Class
That time is upon us again, when big budgets and on-screen explosions and CGI effects and scantily clad women seem to take over the entertainment industry. Yes, it’s the summer movie season! As a public service, each year I take a look at the upcoming movies, read their descriptions, watch their trailers, and give you my verdict on whether or not they will be watchable. Today we will look at some of the coming films to be released in the months of May and June.
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Natalie Portman
Director: Kenneth Branagh
Plot: The warrior Thor is cast out of the fantastical realm of Asgard by his father Odin for his arrogance and sent to Earth to live among humans. Falling in love with scientist Jane Foster teaches Thor much needed lessons, and his new-found strength comes in plan as a villain from his homeland wends dark forces toward Earth.
My Take: My familiarity with the Thor comic book character is basically nonexistent, so this one does hold some intrigue for me, particularly because of the presence of Branagh, whose directorial work has mostly been in Shakespeare adaptations. The trailer looks promising and if the reviews are decent, I’ll probably check it out eventually.
Starring: Mel Gibson, Jodie Foster, Anton Yelchin
Director: Jodie Foster
Plot: A troubled executive adopts a beaver hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating with his family and colleagues.
My Take: So, apparently Mel Gibson’s comeback from hate speech and insanity is to play Mr. Garrison from South Park. Um, okay, I guess. We’ll see.
Hobo with a Shotgun
Starring: Rutger Hauer
Director: Jason Eisener
Plot: A transient looking for a fresh start in a new town instead finds himself in the middle of an urban wasteland run by a notorious crime boss and crooked cops. Fed up with the violence around him, he grabs hold of a pump-action shotgun and begins to dole out round after round of civilian justice.
My Take: Why include this one? Because it’s about a freakin’ vigilante hobo with a shotgun and the director’s last work was on a short film about murderous Christmas trees fighting back. Awesome.
Starring: Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne
Director: Paul Feig
Plot: Picked as her best friend’s maid of honor, lovelorn and broke Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.
My Take: The trailer looks better than expected from the plot description and the comparison to Judd Apatow is promising. We’ll see.
Stars: Paul Bettany, Cam Gigandet, Maggie O
Director: Scott Charles Stewart
Plot: A priest disobeys church law to track down the vampires who kidnapped his niece.
My Take: A vampire hunting priest? Eh. Whatever.
Everything Must Go
Stars: Will Ferrell, Rebecca hall, Christopher Jordan Wallace
Director: Dan Rush
Plot: After Nick Halsey loses his job, the rest of his life begins to crumble as his wife leaves him and he starts drinking again. Oddly enough, selling his worldly possessions on his front lawn with the help of two neighbors might be the key to his preservation.
My Take: I tend to be a Will Ferrell fan, so I’m looking at this comedy-drama with a great deal of interest, maybe even more so since it co-stars the Notorious B.I.G.’s son. I’ll see it at some point
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Stars: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane
Director: Rob Marshall
Plot: After crossing paths with a woman from his path, Captain Jack Sparrow is swept aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, the ship of the formidable pirate Blackbeard, on an unexpected mission to find the elusive fountain of youth.
My Take: I wasn’t terribly enamored with the last two Pirates sequels and I don’t recall ever seeing them more than once, but I’m sure I’ll watch this one as well. You have to wonder if director Rob Marshall, best known for his work on Chicago, will add in a song-and-dance scene.
The Hangover Part II
Stars: Bradley Cooper, Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms
Director: Todd Phillips
Plot: Right after the bachelor party in Las Vegas, Phil, Stu, Alan, and Dough jet to Thailand for Stu’s wedding. Stu’s plan for a subdued pre-wedding brunch, however, goes seriously awry.
My Take: Again? The first was a lot of fun, but I can’t imagine doing it over will hold the same appeal.
Kung Fu Panda 2
Stars: Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan
Director: Jennifer Yuh
Plot: Po and the Furious Five venture to China to battle a villain and uncover the secrets of Po’s mysterious origins.
My Take: There’s no escape. This will be a must-see for my kids.
X-Men: First Class
Stars: James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lowrence
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Plot: Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr are two young men discovering their powers. Banding together with fellow mutants to stop a threat to the world, a rift grows between the two forces, leading to the founding of Professor X’s X-Men and Magneto’s Brotherhood, and the beginning of their eternal war.
My Take: X-Men 3 was a big letdown after the classic second chapter, so I’m a bit iffy about this prequel. It has a good cast, an interesting director, and an appealing trailer, so I’m sure I’ll see it at some point.
Starring: Elle Fanning, Amanda Michalka, Kyle Chandler
Director: JJ Abrams
Plot: Ohio, 1979: When kids shooting a super 8 movie witness a train crash, their shock soon turns to feelings of suspicion and horror after disappearances and inexplicable events begin to take place in town.
My Take: JJ Abrams struck gold with his incredible relaunch of Star Trek, so I would be watching anything he does with interest now. This teaming with producer Steven Spielberg, though, looks like a revisit to the 1980’s, so much so that in the trailer I almost expected to see bikes flying by the moon. Probably a must-see this summer.
Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Starsgaard
Director: Martin Campbell (Edge of Darkness, Casino Royale, The Legend of Zorro)
Plot: When he’s granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, test pilot Hal Jordan becomes the first human to earn membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe. His mission: to combat an enemy called Parallax, which threatens to destroy the universe’s balance of power.
My Take: In a summer jam-packed with comic book movies, Green Lantern is one that stands out and definitely one the studio believes will be huge. I’m sure I’ll see it at some point.
Stars: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy
Director: John Lasseter (Cars, Toy Story, Toy Story 2), Brad Lewis
Plot: Lightning McQueen, pit boss Mater, and the rest of Lightning’s crew enter the Race of Champions, a multi-national event taking place in Japan, Germany, Italy, France, and England.
My Take: The kids will definitely see to it that they win this round, so I’m sure we’ll see it at some point.
What about you? What movies are you looking forward to? I’ll post part 2 later when I have time.
And the Oscar Goes To… February 23, 2011Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: Academy Awards, confused by Inception
Roll out that red carpet, call the limo service, and get those last minute shots of botox – it’s Oscar time! The Academy Awards are the only “awards show” that I generally pay any attention to and even then I can’t sit and watch the whole thing. Anyway, I am always interested in their choices. This year there are again ten nominees for Best Picture:
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
Given that I’ve only seen one of these films (It was Inception, which by the way is not a movie made for people who’ve had head injuries and suffer from short term memory loss. A week or so after I saw it, Patrick the priest asked me about a specific point in the movie and I was completely blank. I definitely need to see it again.), I don’t feel as if I have much room to comment on the selections or choose a winner based on the synopses from IMDB. So, I turn to you to tell me your choice for best film of the year. Is it one of these nominees or is it something else entirely?
Still Abiding February 2, 2011Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: best movie ever, Big Lebowski 2, coen brothers, sequel, The Dude
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According to reports, there are plans to film a sequel to perhaps the greatest movie ever made, The Big Lebowski. As long as the Coen’s are in charge, this could be the Godfather II of sequels about pot-smoking, unemployed bowlers.
So, what could possibly be in this sequel?
At the end of The Big Lebowski, there is talk of a “little Lebowski” on the way, who would be about 13 right now.
Sure, Donny died, but he could always come back as a ghost – at least so Walter could tell him to “shut the **** up.”
You have to hope that a sequel wouldn’t tarnish the original (which I don’t even think is possible), but I would love to revisit these characters again. Bring back The Dude, Walter, Jesus, Brandt, The Big Lebowski, Maude, the Stranger, the nihilists – all of them. I’ll be first in line.
My brother commented on this yesterday too and I think he’s just as excited about the idea as I am.
Spine Chilling Cinema October 20, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: halloween, horror movies
With less than two weeks remaining until the most horrifying of holidays, Halloween, something is missing from my life. It’s not pounds of candy, nor is it costumes or decorations of other frightening paraphernalia, but it is an integral part of the Halloween season. The nights are growing longer, a chill is in the air, and it’s time for some horror movies.
Now I’ve never been what many would consider a horror movie connoisseur. I’ve certainly seen my fair share of scary cinematic offerings, but it has never been among my favorite types of movies. This time of year, though, brings the genre to the forefront and I cannot help my yearning for frightful films.
So, I ask you today, what are your favorite horror movies?
On Families and Film October 12, 2010Posted by Matt in movies.
Tags: 1980's family movies, Ghostbusters, The Karate Kid, The Neverending Story
Whatever happened to the family movie?
There are not too many things I lament from the passing of the 1980’s some two decades ago, but one piece of that decade that seems to be sorely lacking today is that of quality cinema aimed at families. Now, I realize that there have been several films released in recent years aimed at specific demographics (children, tweens, teens, etc.), but there are few that appeal across the age spectrum while also providing entertainment for parents.
Many times it seems as though today’s kids’ movies are perhaps too sheltered, too separate from reality, as though children lack the mental or emotional ability to handle certain situations that arise in life like death, depression, loneliness, and others. It is condescending, to say the least. Over the past several years it seems to have become more prevalent that parents want to draw a steel-enforced protective bubble around their children in order to keep all the bad things away. Thus, you end up with today’s cinematic situation, where movies are either on the infant-appropriate and totally unrealistic G-rated end or they are PG-13, which is a bit outside my comfort zone for my young children. Somewhere along the way the PG movie seems to have been forgotten.
That being the case, we decided at some point that it was time for our girls to be introduced to the films that we remembered from our childhood, despite the fact that they have the occasional bout of violence or vulgar language or sad situations absent in today’s sanitized cinema.
Over the past two weeks we added three more movies to our ever-expanding list. First, we started with the original The Karate Kid and I was totally surprised at how well the movie held up over the ensuing 25 years. You can’t help buy cheer on Daniel-san and Mr. Miyagi, who, I had forgotten, was a depressed old man trying desperately to drink away the memory of his wife and child that had died some 40 years earlier.
Yesterday, after we returned from our camping trip, we had a little mini-movie-marathon, starting with a something from Netflix Watch It Now that I hadn’t seen in probably 20 or more years, The Neverending Story. All that I really remembered was a kid flying around on some dog-thing (actually a luck dragon), so there were certainly some surprises in store for me. There was one scene in particular that seemed so foreign when compared to today’s antiseptic-clean children’s films. This particular portion of the film concerned the boy Atreyu leading his beloved horse through the Swamps of Sadness, who becomes overcome with sadness and slowly sinks to his death while the boy yells and moans. It is quite a harrowing scene for a kids’ movie.
The other movie we watched yesterday was completely different than these: Ghostbusters. Let me tell you, it is still an incredibly funny and inventive piece of work and I often found myself laughing out loud. I was a little concerned beforehand that Rachel might find some parts to be scary, but, as many parents tend to do, I underestimated her and she loved it.
There are other movies from that time period that I have my eye on procuring in the near future to watch. Rachel has seen E.T. before, but we’ve never watched it together and I would really like to own a copy of it, so it is certainly on the radar. I’d like to pick up the Indiana Jones movies, particularly Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I’m sure they will love it too. Then there are other classics like Back to the Future, which both Diana and I would like to see again and share with the kids.
What do you think? Do you agree that the 1980’s was a great era for family films? What movies would you suggest?