X-Men: Days Of Future Past Review

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So, I went to go see the new X-Men film the other day, and as is the expected course of events, I’m due to review it. But in the spirit of originality, I thought I’d make this review a little different. When I thought back to my tepid feelings towards this film upon entering, and my outright enthusiasm for it at exit, I realised that the old me was missing some vital appreciation of Wolverine and co.

I got hold of Ellen Page, who’s going by the name ‘Kitty Pryde’ of late. She agreed that by harnessing my regenerative genes, she could send me back in time to four weeks ago, thus allowing me to discuss the film with myself – to see how my pre and post opinions differ on the topic of Bryan Singer’s latest mutant mash-up. Savvy? Good. Here goes. [Cue Huey Lewis and The News]

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The Greatest of the Great Gatsby

In honor of the new movie, I’m posting here my favorite quotes from this, my favorite of all American novels. If you have other nominations, post them in the comments.

I was rather literary in college—one year I wrote a series of very solemn and obvious editorials
for the ‘Yale News’—and now I was going to bring back all such things into my life and become again that most limited of all specialists, the ‘well-rounded man.’

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Skyfall

The first thing that is immediately obvious about the new Bond movie is that it is not a sequel. I guess maybe this should not be a surprise, given that most Bond movies have always stood on their own, but after Quantum of Solace picked up where Casino Royale left off, you might be excused for believing that story line would continue into this movie as well. But no. The second thing that becomes immediately obvious is that this is a very different Bond from any we have seen before. Continue reading

Movie Review: Looper

Rian Johnson’s Looper is a multi-layered action-sci-fi-drama that delivers strong performances and a compelling, if somewhat brutal, cinematic experience.

Looper takes place in a dystopian near future.  In 2044, poverty and crime are rampant, and control of everything has been taken over by gangsters.  Time travel doesn’t exist yet, but it will three decades later, and it will be highly illegal, not well understood, and only used by criminals.  Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)  is so-called “looper,” an very specialized assasin (executioner, really) whose job it is to go to a pre-established location at a given time, and execute hog-tied, gagged and hooded persons that are zapped back from 30-years in the future as soon as they arrive in the present.  The looper then disposes of the body and collects his reward, bars of silver that are sent back with the person to be executed.  At some point, every looper knows that the crime bosses in the future may decide to “close the loop” by sending the looper’s future self back to be killed.  For this special killing, the looper is rewarded in gold bars and released from any further obligations or duties.  All of this is revealed in the movie’s first few minutes–much of it through voice-over exposition–so when Joe find himself staring at his future self (Bruce Willis), it’s not at all a  surprise, but entirely expected.  (If you’ve seen the Looper trailer, you know this is coming, but this is really all premise, not spoiler.)  But, when it does happen, something’s gone awry. Old Joe isn’t bound, gagged and hooded as expected, and this gives him just enough time to cold-cock his younger self, escape his fate, and begin pursuit of his own future-changing agenda in the past/present.  Mayhem, needless to say, ensues.

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The Dark Knight Rises

I saw this movie last night with my daughter and really liked it. Rather than write a traditional review, however, I thought I would just start a discussion on it using the things I liked and didn’t like about it, and some things I was surprised about.

WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS AFTER THE JUMP. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE, THINK TWICE BEFORE READING FURTHER. Continue reading

Movies That Speak to Me

The secret to gift giving is empathy.  The perfect gift will feel like it was picked out with great care, as if telepathically (or empathically, I suppose) for the person who receives it.  Every now and then, I come across a movie that, when I watch it, feels like the filmmaker has given me a gift, a movie that was carefully crafted to appeal to my own individual sensibilities and sense of humor.

These are the kinds of movies that help define a movie lover.  The adolescent version of you will screen the movies for prospective girlfriends or boyfriends as a pass/fail litmus test.

The movies discussed in this post are not universally lauded by critics or massively popular.  Some of them are polarizing.  But (for whatever reason) they mean a lot personally.

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Work In Progress: If Hollywood Did Family Home Evening

To the reader. The following post is a work in progress. I had an idea to write a post about family home evening, and make it film related. This is my first, unfiltered, unedited attempt at harnessing that idea. Please read it with that in mind, and, of course, feel free to make comments and suggestions. Many thanks, and i hope you enjoy….

Somewhere in the world this Monday, there is a family gathered together in joyous harmony. The mum and dad are blissful, the kids even more so. Immaculate side partings, perfect white teeth and cinnamon tans all around; this cardboard cut out model is the nuclear family of Mormonism. For the rest of us mere mortals, its tantrums and tone deaf hymns; a chaotic mess, that is scarcely functional. This is family home evening.

Latter-Day Saint church authorities swear by the staple Monday night carnival that is FHE, and encourage it to “discuss gospel principles, [enjoy] recreation, work projects, skits…games, refreshments…” and, most hideously antiquated, my personal favourite, “songs around the piano.” [Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, July 1992]

One thing I love about FHE is that it really shouldn’t work. Yet by some miracle of twisted logic, some cosmic or celestial irony, it can be some of the best times spent as kinfolk. It’s my opinion that the sum of a family’s parts is their shared interaction in a FHE. The things they say, the decisions they make, the activities they choose, all add up to reflect the family as a unit; their ‘collective personality’ as it were. Which got me thinking, what if Hollywood used FHE as a plot device; a way of portraying dynamics?

I have created a list of ten famous film families, and how I think they would be depicted in their respective films holding a family home evening. It is part geek in-joking and part creative writing. For the purposes of this list, you have to pretend that these characters would be LDS, or at least au fait with the LDS tradition of FHE. The types of characters that they are, and the course of their depiction would stand: this is just an exploration of what would potentially happen if these characters were existent beyond the confines of their portrayal. So allow me to muse on their family dynamics, as explored through the catalyst of that Monday night cavalcade, family home evening.

Note: This list is by no means exhaustive, and many of you may think of stronger or more mainstream families. I have tried to get a mixture of ‘go to’ names, and some not-so-well-known. But feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments section below.

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The ‘Jaws’ Of My Dreams: Fantasy Film-making

I had, what is potentially, one of the geekiest dreams of my life the other night. I dreamed an entire remake of Jaws, with Robert Downey Jr cast as Martin Brody. It was a very unique and enjoyable experience. For some reason, my subconscious decided that the remake would have the feel of an M.Night Shyamalan film; deafeningly quiet and openly sparse. The oddest thing of all was that despite the limitless ability my mind has to create a near perfect shark, it still chose prosthetic; clearly a sign that the traditionalist within me refuses to embrace CG over practical effects. Although there were moments of familiarity, my Jaws had a distinctly different feel to the actual Jaws. It had a darker tone, there was less comedy and the three man bro-mance was a lot more strained.

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