Category Archives: Movies

Savages

***Warning, some light swearing ahead***

I went to see Savages last weekend (the only break I took from writing). I hadn’t read the book, but I had read about it (which is by no means anywhere close to a substitute, I’m just sayin’ I wasn’t completely clueless.) I thought the movie was brilliant–just the right combination of story, character, acting, setting, and soundtrack.

So I came home, and I decided to download the preview to Don Winslow’s book (because if you don’t have to commit, why do it, right?). I’m not about to provide a review for the book, because that would be a little absurd (there are authors that are past being reviewed by people like me). And besides, there are far too many reviews on Amazon that are trying to be cool and hip and oh-so-intelligent that another “regular” honest review wouldn’t be worth it.

But I would like to make this one comment: How brilliant of a screen writer / director team can one have to turn that book into that movie? Pretty damn brilliant. No, seriously. Consider the first chapter of the book: “Fuck you.” That’s it. That’s the entire first chapter. Now, I may not know much about good writing, but I’ve been a professional reader since the age of four (no TV till the age of ten, long story) and I think that having that as the first chapter of your book is a little gratuitous, because my clearly un-hip, un-cool mind cannot comprehend how that adds to the story. And this is coming from someone who is not shy about swearing in real life. Not at all. In fact, fuck, my swearing is pretty bad.

So I just can’t stop wondering, could it be that the author is so brilliant, that he figured nobody would dare question it, because it’s so out there that everyone will be too afraid to say something for fear they might appear un-cool and un-hip and un-cultured? Like another case of “the emperor’s new clothes?” And his first chapter is a dedication to the suck-ups who grinned and told him how brilliant that was? I’d rather believe that, than accept that he actually believes that that first “chapter” is an essential part of his story, and that the initial shock/awe/confusion of that opening makes one understand and enjoy the story in ways that they couldn’t otherwise.

Regardless of what I think, he’s still selling that thing like hotcakes and the movie made him a millionaire. So he’ll be laughing his way to the bank while I sit here and wonder. Ohhh… Fuck. I finally get it now.


Machine Gun Preacher

I just finished watching “Machine Gun Preacher,” a movie in which Gerard Butler portrays Sam Childers, a man who turned his life around and is now running a charity in Sudan and Uganda.

A few thoughts:

– Devastating. What’s happening in the African war zones comes to my mind frequently, but I have to admit that at times it all becomes a little bit of a philosophical concept than an on-the-ground reality. Movies and documentaries are good reminders to keep the reality top of mind.

– I wish it didn’t take movies to remind us of these atrocities, but I’m grateful that they exist and someone realizes the importance of making them.

– It’s hard not to feel guilty; I try to remind myself that feeling guilty doesn’t solve the problem. And that compassion is completely different than guilt. So I donate what I can, and I hope that one of these days I’ll be able to get involved in more significant ways.

– It’s also hard not to feel disgusted by everything that’s happening around you, by all the trivial pursuits and petty complaints; unlike guilt, I wish everyone realized how few things in this life, in this world, truly matter, and we all started behaving more like human beings and less like rabid wolves. I know I engage in stupid, petty things all the time, especially during my work day. I’ll make a much more conscious effort to not do that anymore and this time I won’t need another movie to remind me of what really matters.

– What an amazing spirit Sam Childers seems to possess. What he’s doing is outstanding. And I bet that the reality is a lot more harrowing than even the movie portrayed. It also turns the idea of individual transformation on its head and provides an example of how one person living on the fringe of humanity, where little hope ever exists, can end up changing and making a massive difference in the world if they put their mind to it.

– I hope that Carpe Terram will someday become a beacon of life for those in need. I realized that what I described in Healers is much too timid. I am going to be a lot bolder in Rebels, and make sure the message of freedom and food for all is much clearer and more vividly illustrated (even if it’s still fiction).

– Everyone should watch this movie. Because I think collectively we can make a difference, even if it is simply by donating. Everyone can make a difference if they want to.

You can find the Machine Gun Preacher site here. You can donate to their charity here. And this is the movie trailer:

 

 

Carpe Terram!

Kai


Snow White and The Huntsman

Today I went to see Snow White and The Huntsman. If you don’t like spoilers then this is where today’s blog post ends for you. Thanks for reading!

But if you have seen it or can’t stay away from the temptation of a spoiler, read on after the trailer…

***SPOILER ALERT***

You have to have some creative chops to bring depth to an old good vs. evil children’s story. Especially one in which you cast Kristen Stewart, and pitted her against Charlize Theron. (Sorry, I just think Kristen Stewart only knows how to play Kristen Stewart. Bella Swan, Snow White… same character, different wardrobe.)

So, while the movie wasn’t as wowing as the trailer promised, here is what I think made it worth watching:

1. The characters have more depth than in the fairy tale. Snow White is still the beautiful little princess, but she’s not this confident, smiling, amazingly joyful, full of love woman, she’s just a scared teenager (of course, it helps that Kristen Stewart only knows how to play SAI – scared, anxious, insecure). The wicked step-mother is even more evil than in the story, but her evilness comes from a spell cast on her as a child by her own mother (which she couldn’t have really controlled), so she’s not evil just because that’s who she wanted to be. (And Charlize Theron does an amazing job on the role.) The seven dwarves are still good-hearted people, but with a lot of spunk and gritty looks.

2. The relationships are more realistic than in the fairy tale: the prince doesn’t get the princess; the “commoner” does. Or so I like to think. The ending can be left to interpretation, but I believe she picked the Huntsman (especially since it was his kiss that brought her back to life, not the prince’s). (Which brings me to another point: really, just one dry kiss while she was technically dead? It was a movie for adults. Spell it out next time, it would be nice to know what they feel about each other, otherwise it’s kinda pointless.)

3. The setting was dark and more Game of Thrones than Disney theme park. You could feel the terror everywhere, and the depressing medieval setting and the dark forest were characters of their own. As was the mirror (which looked more like a gong or an over-sized gold plate).

So if you like a good twist on an old story, you should watch it.

P.S.: Next movie I’m going to see? Magic Mike. That trailer was hysterical (I want to see it for the humor, who cares about Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey stripping? Just the way men buy Playboy for the articles.) Plus, I need something to balance out the “dryness” in Snow White. 😉