Tag Archives: Movies

Boyhood – Review

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Boyhood is the newest film by Richard Linklater who is known for diverse films such as Dazed and Confused, School of Rock and the Before trilogy. This film follows the life of Mason, a young boy growing up in the new American family, a broken one. Seen through his eyes and spanning the 12 years from ages 5 to 18, Boyhood also has the distinction of being filmed over those same 12 years. One of the highlights is watching the natural progression of the characters as they truly age with time. The children go through every awkard stage of development as the parents descend into age’s inevitable trap. It is a unique and special film.

Limbo

This film is aptly named Boyhood as everyone in the film male and female, young and old, is caught in a perpetual childhood with no guide to full adulthood. The grown-ups may be older, but they are just as lost as everyone else, absentmindedly bouncing from one thing to another while dragging their children along like emotional baggage they’ve inadvertently collected. There is a beautiful ruination in Boyhood as we witness the aimlessness of the characters. No one has any clear idea of the meaning of life or anything resembling a purpose. It’s a sad picture of the lives so many lead and haphazardly pass on to their children.

There is no one to help this boy become a man. All the men he has in his life, in this span of time are petty, immature, some drunk and dangerous or just absent. They are locked into an uninterrupted boyhood, lost as to the meaning of being a man. Without a foundation of faith or belief in God, these men are left to wander the wastelands of video games, ridiculous dreams and booze. They shirk responsibility, hoping to find something better just over that next horizon. It’s utter lostness. Manhood has to be passed from one man to another and there is not one true man in the film. (Except Mason’s dad’s, second wife’s father, who is shown to be an attentive father, husband and grandfather. He and his wife are down home, God-loving people, yet the main characters mock the notion of being a “God person.”)

The most ironic scene and yet the most moving comes near the end of the film. Earlier, Mason’s mom encourages a young hispanic teen who is working at a manual labor job outside their home to go to school. She tells him he is smart and could truly make something of himself if he gets an education. As Mason is heading off to college, his mother and sister accompany him to lunch at a restaurant where the manager comes over to introduce himself only to find that it’s that same teen, now grown up. Because of her words, he has studied English, gone to community college and is finishing his bachelor’s degree. He thanks her for her kindness and tells her children to listen to her because she’s a wise woman. What’s so ironic is that this is the most moving scene in the movie and it’s not between Mason and his mother, but between her and a stranger. She’s had more of a directing, helpful influence on this unknown boy than her own. Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Yet in Boyhood, none of the adults know the way their children should go, since they themselves are essentially lost in limbo, having adult bodies with the minds of children.

Conclusion

Boyhood is an important film to see; it’s a masterful achievement in cinematic production. Each vignette in Mason’s life transfers seamlessly to create the illusion that 12 years passes in just under 3 hoursIt also shines a light on the state of the American family. It’s broken and mangled on the rocks of selfishness and the endless adolescence a majority of people find themselves locked in. Children grow up directionless as they are not shepherded to adulthood, but left to muddle through with no purpose or true hope for something better. The movie will leave you with a melancholy unease as exemplified in the closing song that says,

Let me go
I don’t wanna be your hero
I don’t wanna be a big man
Just wanna fight with everyone else

Your masquerade
I don’t wanna be a part of your parade
Everyone deserves a chance to
Walk with everyone else

While holding down
A job to keep my girl around
And maybe buy me some new strings
And her and I out on the weekends

And we can whisper things
Secrets from our American dreams
Baby needs some protection
But I’m a kid like everyone else

There is hope, but it is up to parents to pass it on to their children as they raise them up in the way they should go and to do that, the parents need hope from above.

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5 ESV)

The 602 Club 14: The Roger Moore of Indiana Jones

tsc-014-th-squareRaiders of the Lost Ark.

As George Lucas vacationed in Hawaii after finishing the original Star Wars, he is joined by Steven Spielberg. Spielberg mentioned that he wants to direct a Bond movie and George tells him he has something better; Indiana Smith. Steven would go on to direct and fortuitously convince George to change the name to Indiana Jones. The rest, as they say, is cinema history.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by John Champion and Norman Lao to talk about the original Indy adventure Raiders of the Lost Ark. We discuss if Indy had been played by Tom Selleck, our memories associated with seeing the film for the first time and what kept us coming back for more, the basis for the series, what we love and what still bugs us about the film, the soundtrack, Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood, plus the question, “Does it hold up for today’s audience?”.

The 602 Club 13: Princess Bride Status

tsc-013-th-square1999 saw the release of three films aimed at sci-fi fandom and more specifically, Star Trek – Free Enterprise, Trekkies and Galaxy Quest. Galaxy Quest seemed to hit that sweet spot for many fans and at Star Trek Las Vegas it’s ranked as a Star Trek Movie.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined by Norman Lao and Andi VanderKolk to talk about Galaxy Quest. We ask the question of whether it should be considered a Star Trek film, our reactions to the movie then and now, themes, crew dynamics, what works, as well as what doesn’t, if the movie would have been better if it had been rated R and if there should be a sequel.

Selma – Review

selma-movie-posterIn 1964 the Civl Rights Act was passed, yet in the Democratic controlled south, African Americans were systematically deigned the vote though archaic voter registration laws and despicable voter intimidation. It is in the small town of Selma, Alabama that the Southern Christian Leadership Conference is called in to make a stand. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his nonviolent movement would be met with some of the most severe opposition and hate the world had seen, as millions around the world would watch it play out on their television screens. This is the story of Selma.

Triumph of Faith

One of the best parts of the story is the way it highlights the movement being lead and supported by those of faith. It was pastors, priests, nuns and those of faith that showed up to support King in his call for reinforcements. Some of these men and women would even pay for this with their lives. Everyone who showed up lived out Christ’s words, “No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends”. All of these men and women, fighting for the equality and dignity of every human being to vote and determine their own fate though their constitutional rights as Americans.

There is a beautiful scene where King is in prison and is struggling to see the endgame, worried about so many things and Ralph Abernathy speaks the truth of Jesus, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” It is another representation of the importance faith played in these people’s lives. It drove them, motivated them and informed everything they did in their fight for their rights.

Equality

The Declaration of Independence established so beautifully, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” King and his followers take this seriously. Driven by their belief in God and the rights of all men and women, created in God’s image to be treated with equality and dignity. If there is no belief in men and women as special, made by God to be unique, it becomes easy to dehumanize, treating people as deserving less than is their right. The leaders of the Civil Rights movement fight against the bigotry and hate of those that cowardly misused faith to oppress others, using Lincoln’s words, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people” as motivation that one day the government would truly be for all.

Conclusion

Selma is an important film, it may be one of the most important films in years, it needs to be seen. What is lamentable is the reminder of just how far we have to go in this area. There are so many places in this country and around the world where bigotry and prejudice reign. The film does such a good job at showing how abhorrent humans can be to one another and yet how virtuous we can be when driven by faith in something bigger than ourselves. What Schindler’s List did for the Holocaust, Selma does for the Civil Rights movement. We cannot forget where we have been, if we do, we will forget just how far we have to go.

 

The 602 Club 11: A Badass Battle Ram

tsc-011-th-SquareThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

Peter Jackson has been thinking about and working in Middle Earth since 1995 and finally, at the close of 2014 the defining chapter is here. From it’s beginnings as  two films and a companion piece, all the way to a trilogy of Hobbit films, the process has been anything but smooth. Finally the two trilogies are now complete and so ends the adventures in Jackson’s Middle Earth.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined once again by Alice Baker and Megan Calcote from Educating Geeks as well as Norman Lao to talk though this final Hobbit film. We discuss everything from the 48fps, to the different battles to the themes, even getting a little personal in the analysis. Will you follow us, one last time?

Best Films of 2014

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In all honesty I found it a struggle to come up with this list. This year was lackluster for me in terms of really good movies. Now, the movies on this list I did feel like were the real highlights. Here’s to hoping that 2015 is better in terms of blockbusters and indie films. Some of the films titles will link you to further content, be sure to check it out.


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1. Interstellar

This movie had me thinking and marveling more than any other film of the year. In my original review I said, “Experimental and challenging, Interstellar is beyond, light years beyond anything seen in years. Nolan has made a movie for movie lovers. Inventive, beautiful and something that pushes the boundaries in thought and the craft” and this is still true.

The-Railway-Man-Poster2. The Railway Man

No movie had a better portrayal of grace in the face of unspeakable tragedy and torture than this. Colin Firth and Hiroyuki Sanada play to perfection the horrors of war, the scars it leaves and the forgiveness that is needed to let go and live life to the fullest. It’s an amazing grace at work and the most powerful film of the year.

captain-america-2-imax-poster-610x8913. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Not only was this my favorite superhero movie of the year, but it was the best Marvel movie for me so far. Marvel finally gets serious and gives us a movie with weight and substance. The issues of domestic spying and what we sacrifice in the name of security hit close to home. Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson crackle onscreen together. Comic book movies have rarely been better.

xmen-days4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Bryan Singer’s return to the X-Men franchise was a welcome one. After the disaster of X3 and the triumph of First Class there seemed to be two different franchises. Singer finds a way to connect all the treads and forge a new path for the series by honoring the past, while creating a new timeline. The Quicksilver scene alone is worth the price of admission.

hr_The_LEGO_Movie_105. The Lego Movie

Not only was it the best animated movie of the year, it was just plain fun. The messages of friendship and what make us truly special, our uniqueness, will make this a delight for children and adults for years to come. This film sets the foundation and the bar for the Lego movies that are coming in the future.

gonegirl26. Gone Girl

Adaptations are difficult, especially to beloved books. Luckily for the film they had author Gillian Flynn as the screen writer and David Fincher as director. The actors are splendidly wicked. Ben Affleck and Rosamond Pike play the despicable characters to perfection and the uneasiness of the ending may leave you breathless. This may be the only time I say reading the book could make the movie less enjoyable for knowing the plot twists beforehand.

mockingjay-katniss-poster7. Mockingjay Part 1

This was the best adaptation of half a book this year. Not only was it a good film it was a timely one. The themes of revolution, civil unrest, propaganda and class warfare make this an important movie, beyond it’s connection to the Hunger Games series. I was surprised to find it was a stand out, especially being only half of the finale to The Hunger Games, but they truly made it work.

The-Hobbit-Battle-of-the-Five-Armies-poster-9-691x10248. The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

We visit Middle Earth one last time and Peter Jackson does not disappoint. Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman are sublime as Bilbo and Thorin. In the midst of all the spectacle it’s the small character moments that stand out and make this a good movie. Touching on themes of greed, loyalty and true friendship the saga comes to a worthy conclusion.

Disney_BigHero6_Poster_Baymax9. Big Hero 6

One word, Baymax. Honestly this movie is not revolutionary in it’s themes or it’s execution, but is fun. Baymax will have you rolling on the floor laughing with his fist bumps and cat comments and sometimes fun is enough.

 

edge_of_tomorrow_np10. Edge of Tomorrow

I missed this movie in it’s theatrical run and was slightly turned off by the “Cruise factor”, but the good reviews finally won me over and I gave it a shot on blu-ray. Tom Cruise is actually a great casting choice and Emily Blunt was a fantastic in this sci-fi Groundhog Day. The ending may be a little weak but for the surprise this was, it is worthy of the list.  

Honorable Mention:

Ffury_ver6_xxlgury

This movie was good. Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf and Logan Lerman are all well cast in David Aryer’s World War II tank film. This is surprisingly one of the most spiritual movies of the year, while at the same time not shying away from the harsh realities of warfare. Worth renting and grappling with.

 

11178319_800What If

This is one of the most honest movies about relationships I’ve seen in a long time. It can be very hard to be just friends, but the reward is also not to be missed. Daniel Radcliffe is astounding and Zoe Kazan will be your new favorite. If you missed this in 2014, see it on 2015

 

Still to see: Wild, Selma, Unbroken, Big Eyes, American Sniper and Boyhood.

The 602 Club 10: They Didn’t Think This Through

downloadThe Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. 

The middle movie of a trilogy has always been the hardest to do. It relies on the first film, has to set up the last film and try stand up on it’s own. Some movies have done this really well, such as The Empire Strikes Back andThe Two Towers. The Desolation of Smaug also had the distinction of being the film that had the most added to it when the duology became a trilogy. Peter Jackson clearly had his work cut out for him.

In this episode of The 602 Club host Matthew Rushing is joined once again by Megan Calcote of Educating Geeks to discuss the second Hobbit film. We dive into the difference in filming time Jackson had and it’s effect on the look of this new trilogy, the new locations we see, Bree, Beorn’s House, Mirkwood, the Woodland Realm, Laketown and Erebor. All this while talking about the new characters and themes from the film.