As previously mentioned in a post, I have claimed The Raid Redemption to be one of my favorite modern martial arts/action films of all time. Last Tuesday, The Raid 2 Berandal premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and I was waiting that night for reviews of the film. I patiently waited until early morning the next day and finally…word came out. Suddenly, a flood of attention and hype came on other blogs and movie review sites appeared. Let the hype begin.
The Raid 2 Berandal is supposed to pick up immediately following the first film and follows the story of Rama, the protagonist, in his journey to take down the crime underworld of Jakarta, Indonesia while undercover. For those of you that have seen the first film, you will understand where I am coming from when I say it is not the type of movie you would watch for its story, its more about the action. However, from what I have read and heard, the plot in this movie is much more captivating in depth and expansive. The action scenes and stunt work is also supposed to be revolutionary. In fact, this movie has been called “one of the greatest action sequels since Terminator 2: Judgement Day”. That kind of comparison is something that you just don’t throw around. I grew up hailing Terminator 2: Judgement Day as one of the greatest movies of all time. I mean the last scene where Arnold goes down on the chain and sacrifices himself for the sake of humanity that was a pretty emotional and heavy scene. On top of that, the special effects James Cameron implemented where revolutionary in the sense that it added a new dimension to action films, CGI.
Being compared to the sequel of The Terminator is something that is extraordinary, but with these high expectations it opens up more opportunity for the movie to not live up to the hype or exceed the anxiety of influence of previous action films. However, on Rotten Tomatoes it currently has a fresh rating of 93% and seems to only be increasing. The only criticism of the movie that I have heard of is that for those that don’t really enjoy violent movies, it may be too violent for those kind of people. This also raises concerns for what kind of rating it will be given, an NC-17 or R? The Raid Redemption was released in the United States rated an R, and there has been talk that this sequel might have to cut out some scenes in order for it to get an R rating. Will these potential changes perhaps affect its performance at the box office or change the vision of those behind the camera? We will have to see as unfortunately it gets released in the United States in March, which makes me really sad. You can count on me attending the midnight premiere though. Here is the trailer released by Sundance:
Last Saturday, I saw what I would consider one of the greatest war films I have ever seen and it was completely by accident. I went with my friends to go watch the new movie starring Joaquin Phoenix, Her, but it was sold out. My friends and I then made a decision on the spot, with most of us loving manly action films, we naturally went with Lone Survivor. Despite the title of the movie and the opening science giving away the end, it is a non-stop suspenseful action movie that is a worthy and fantastic dedication to our troops. Mark Wahlberg did an excellent job producing this film and of portraying Marcus Luttrell, the survivor of Operation Red Wings. The whole cast did a fantastic job of taking on the personas of the real flesh and blood people they are dedicating their performance to.
The special effects and the costume/make up department did a fantastic job as they flawlessly recreated the injuries the SEALS sustained, from trauma wounds from falling down cliff sides to bullets and shrapnel. The several gory and agonizing scenes where completely necessary to accurately portray the reality behind the film, and to remind the audience that all of this was real. Actual people lived through the events in the movie. This movie was an emotional roller coaster as I laughed at the humorous scenes at the base, felt suspense in the action sequences, agony at the injury parts, and I teared up at the heart to heart, emotional sequences as well as the tribute at the very end dedicated to our troops. Okay, I’ll admit it…I almost cried….definitely got watery eyes. I can now add this to the list of movies that I have gotten emotional in and the list so far is Braveheart, The Notebook, and now this. This movie is near and dear to my heart as I had an uncle that was a Marine and I am actively involved in the Wounded Warrior Project. I felt it was a fitting and well made tribute to the story and you can tell the people behind the film really put their heart into it. It moved the whole audience. As soon as the movie was over, a USA chant was started in one corner of the theater and a standing ovation was given. The movie made my group feel proud to be an American and made us even more grateful for our troops as they put their own well being on the line to protect our livelihood and liberties. I highly recommend you watch this movie.
In addition, I would just like to provide an update on the recreational basketball league I am starting that I mentioned in my post High Flying Movies. The league, the ABA Recreational Basketball League, is starting to take shape as we have teams signing up to play and we are starting to gain a following over Facebook and Instagram. Our Facebook page is called ABA Recreational Basketball League and our Instagram can be followed at @ababasketball. We are in the process of editing our and releasing our videos just as the league starts to make the players feel like it is the NBA. We plan to make highlight reels of the teams and players while documenting the process of making the league along the way. In addition, with All-Star Weekend coming up in mid-February, we will host an All-Star event as well. Feel free to follow our pages and support the league, thanks!
When reading Frankenstein, I couldn’t help but notice it strikes similarity to another classic 1980’s action movie, Robocop, starring Peter Weller. This movie is…well…about a robot cop, but is much more complicated about that. More specifically, it is about a cop that gets in an accident and to bring him back he is the test subject of a new technology program which turns him into basically a crime fighting android. For the younger audience out there, it is a grown up, darker version of the iconic Inspector Gadget character. In the movie, the program responsible for the construction of Robocop is responsible for many police officers going on strike since robotic cops would put them out of work. From this point on in the movie,the parallels between the Creature and Robocop become similar.
Much like the Creature, Robocop is a creation that struggles finding its own identity in the world. The Creature upon learning about his appearance and origins doesn’t quite know how he fits in to the world, besides the fact that he is an outcast, because he is the first of his kind. Robocop, having a machine body and a programmed human head, struggles between his programming and his own human memories. This identity crisis between crime fighting robot and the man behind the machine is what propels the plot line, making it more than just an action film. The Creature and Robocop both have moments where they see their true selves, they see their own reflections. However, Robocop is able to accomplish something the Creature simply couldn’t, destroy his creator. This movie , much like The Terminator, shows society’s fear of the potential of the progress being made in computers and robots in the late 1980’s. It is also worth noting that this movie is being remade, and the new Robocop is coming out next month in February. It stars Joel Kinnaman as Robocop and it also features Michael Keaton and one of my favorite actors, Samuel L. Jackson. I will be sure to post a movie review upon seeing it, but already I have one concern that I can’t shake off. Why does the new Robocop have human hands? Doesn’t that kind of take away from the robotic aspect of him when he faces enemies causing them to just shoot his hands? I don’t know if that will be an issue but it was just a thought.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is not only a classic novel, but it has become the basis of a variety of movie genres, from horror to science fiction. The story of Frankenstein, a scientist who aspires to create life and when he does his creation fumbles out of his own control, has been referenced to and remixed in works of literature, movies, and popular culture. At the time of Mary Shelley, science was about to reach another revolution as the potentials of science weren’t quite realized to a majority of people. It was apparent though that science could intrude upon the beliefs of religion and ethics. Mary Shelley uses the idea of ethics and of the unknown potential of science to fuel the true horror evoked by Frankenstein.
The story of how this novel has gotten to the level of popularity it reaches today starts with the novel itself. The book at first got mixed reviews but over time it gained a following. At the turn of the century, the first film adaptation of it was made by Edison Studios in 1910 as a Silent short film. However, this would not get the reception that the Universal Studios’ version staring Boris Karloff would receive in the 1931 version. This movie solidified and introduced the horror genre to popular culture, while also setting up a kind of archetype for horror movies at the time. The idea of man playing God and the consequences that follow captivated the minds of audiences everywhere. This and the rest of the Frankenstein movies by Universal built upon this idea. These movies helped to build the idea of the mad scientist in the laboratory whose own creation spins out of his own control. Actually, Frankenstein brought the idea of one’s own creation being more than what the creator could handle, which has been an important staple in the science fiction world.
The ideas presented above have influenced a variety of famous movies, from action to science fiction. For example, The Terminator franchise builds upon the idea that man won’t be able to control its own advancements when it comes to robotics and computers. The idea that machines will rise against man creating a skull filled post-apocalyptic world terrified audiences upon being released since at the time in the 1980’s advancements were being made in computers. In Jurassic Park, man tries to play God again by bringing back dinosaurs through modern genetics in order to create an amusement park. In the words of Jeff Goldblum, “Uh…uh…Life finds a way.” Yes, yes it does, as then the dinosaurs escape and terrorize the island. Once again, playing on the potential fears of the time, as in the 1990’s advancements in genetics and cloning brought new scientific ethics to the field. These classic movies, just like in the times of Mary Shelley, is a response to potential fears at the time.
Recently I have watched a video series called Everything is a Remix, and it got me thinking about the idea of reframing/remixing ideas. The video explained how today’s world is greatly built on the ideas and thoughts of our predecessors. In addition, new ideas and creations are made by the transformation of these ideas. While watching the video, I immediately thought how hip-hop/rap music perfectly embodies this idea. Since the earliest days of rap music, the idea of sampling beats or instrumentals was prevalent. For example, The Sugarhill Gang used a piece of the beat from Chic’s Good Times in order to create the classic Rapper’s Delight. The Sugarhill Gang didn’t flat out copy Chic’s song, they just used one component from the song, a part of the instrumental, and built their beat around it so they could musically innovate.
Sampling is an essential part of rap music, its not only a way for artists to pay homage to those that came before them but it allows a starting point for creation. It is very rare that a rapper has never sampled somebody else in the slightest way, whether it be a part of the beat or background vocals. For example, Drake has always been influenced by the music of Aaliyah and Whitney Houston so he pays homage to them by sampling them. One critical, often overlooked, aspect of rap music is the beat because in the end of the day it’s not all just about the lyrics. The beat adds a lot to a song; it adds rhythm, tone, mood, and atmosphere. Thus, often rappers wish they could use a particular sound to add to what they are trying to convey with their music and if they really want to include it they can sample it. In rap, there are two types of sampling: authorized and unauthorized. Authorized sampling comes when the parties directly involved, as in those that own the sound being sampled, are in agreement with the person wanting to sample it. For example, after the death of Biggie Small’s, P. Diddy (or Puff Daddy at the time) sampled the instrumental from The Police’s song Every Breath you Take to create the tribute song I’ll Be Missing You. On the other hand, unauthorized sampling is where an artist will try to sneak in a sample and hope they don’t get in legal trouble. One of the more notable examples is Vanilla Ice’s hit Ice Ice Baby which wrongly used the bass line from Queen’s Under Pressure.
The rap game is very competitive and with modern culture it is much more interconnected with technology and social media. As mentioned there are different kinds of sampling, but there is a gray area when it comes to the legality of sampling in one scenario, mixtapes. Mixtapes are a collection of songs established or aspiring artists make and distribute freely, usually by the internet these days. As long as the artists aren’t making money from this they usual sample freely and it allows these artists to build off something and create their own songs. An example of this is Drake’s third mixtape Sooner than Later which sampled some artists and it helped him get the attention of the music industry while also being Grammy nominated for just that mixtape. In addition, artists often freestyle over the beats of other artists to make their own version or to send a message to that artist. Now, these freestyles are never released as official songs in order to avoid legal trouble. An example of this is when various artists covered Drake’s ballad Marvin’s Room.
I recently watched one of my favorite musical turned movies, Les Miserables, with my other favorite being The Phantom of the Opera. Upon watching Les Miserables, I noticed there were two scenes very similar to that of Hamlet, which I happen to be reading as of this moment. These two works both have the motifs of revenge and serious contemplation. Hamlet is bent on revenge for his father’s death through killing Claudius, while the revenge in Les Miserables comes from how Javert is obsessed with catching Jean Valjean. However, the scenes of serious contemplation really intrigue me.
There are two scenes in the beginning of the movie that are central to setting up how the audience views Jean Valjean. The first one is immediately after the police come to the church where Jean Valjean is staying and are about to arrest him for stealing but the priest clears his name. Realizing how the priest saved him from going back to jail, he has a soliloquy where he contemplates what he is doing with his life and his character. Now, it isn’t of the same subject matter of whether he should commit suicide or not, but this scene is important as it leads to the all important question of the movie in the next song. The next more comparable scene is the scene where Jean Valjean has heard how an innocent man will be tried for being mistaken to be him, and he must make a decision: take action or don’t. If he takes action he risks his life, but if he doesn’t he has the guilt of a man’s life over him. He asks the question that will continue to echo through the play/movie: Who am I?
Toward’s the end of the movie, the scene I am about to discuss takes place, and note if you haven’t seen the movie/play I am warning you this is a spoiler. Now, if you recall the end of the movie has the scene where Javert has failed to catch Jean Valjean ater he just watches him walk away from the sewer exit. The next scene the audience finds Javert on top of a bridge walking on the edge. He then continues to sing the song titled “Javert’s Suicide” where he decides what to do with his life after failing at his really own purpose for living, justice. He believes he has failed and contemplates whether to live or die. This is very similar to Hamlet in the “To be or not to be..” soliloquy as he too contemplates suicide. The only difference between the two is that Javert takes his own life and Hamlet instead takes a different action, deciding to carry out revenge.
With basketball season already in full swing, I have been glued to the TV watching my favorite match ups of the day while also keeping up with my fantasy team. In addition, I along with two of my friends are creating a basketball league for teenagers in our community, because we realized there weren’t any competitive basketball leagues at the high school level that were outside of playing for the high school or travel ball. Thus, we decided to work together and create one for kids who for whatever reason couldn’t play for their high school or they couldn’t afford travel ball. We have decided to name it the ABA, to bring back the notion of “let’s just play basketball and have fun” that was what kind of characterized the ABA back in the day where it rivaled the NBA. I will be posting a link to my basketball league’s page and videos in posts and be sure to keep all of you updated. However, to celebrate the launch of the beginning of our setting up process, I have decided to compile my favorite basketball movies.
1. Teen Wolf-1985
This classic 80’s movie stars one of the most iconic actors of the decade, Michael J. Fox. In Back to the Future, he played Marty McFly on his adventures through time with Dr. Emmett Brown, played by Christopher Lloyd. In Teen Wolf, Fox plays an average teenager who happens to be on his school’s not so great varsity basketball team. On his team he isn’t a star but it is more like he’s just there (and the tension between the team doesn’t help). Along with the troubles of his basketball team, he is also troubled by average things like not being popular, school, girls, and oh yea being a werewolf. One night when he gets home, he starts getting a really funny feeling and rushes to the bathroom. Upon looking in the mirror, he discovers he is turning into some sort of monster and soon discovers it runs in his family, as his father is also a werewolf. Now, he isn’t like a new “Twilight” werewolf or savage by any means, in this movie he just becomes furry and also becomes more athletic. You can imagine there are few werewolves in your typical high school, so Scott (his character’s name) suddenly gets launched into stardom when in a game he fails to hide his alter ego. He gets angry during a basketball game and suddenly transforms into a high flying werewolf. This movie doesn’t focus so much on basketball the sport, but uses it as a medium to tell the story.
This is one of the quintessential basketball films as it is a story on not only the competitive aspect, but the philosophy behind the game. As far as the plot, it is similar to a more recent movie, Remember the Titans, in the sense that there is the plot development between a community and a new coach being brought in for the high school team. Similarly, the community at first is uneasy about the new basketball coach, Dale, and also that the town basketball star, Jimmy, refuses to play for Dale due to how he was so attached to the old coach. Dale introduces a new playing style that doesn’t quite yield the results the community hoped for and threaten to get rid of him. However, Jimmy decides to play and this turns things around for the team. The team ends up going to to the state championship and wins it all with everyone on the team stepping up along the way. This movie is an excellent movie, as to not butcher the beautiful messages and inspiration in the movie, I highly suggest you watch it if you haven’t.
3. Coach Carter-2005
This movie is an inspiring sports drama about the struggles of inner city youth and trying to balance basketball along with their other priorities. In this movie, the great Samuel L. Jackson plays Ken Carter, an alumni of Richmond High School, is newly coached to run the school basketball team. He is disappointed in the activities and behavior of the team and before he can teach them basketball he must team them about life. He forces them to study and has them sign contracts to make sure they wouldn’t neglect their studies. The movie really focuses on how life and sports are interconnected in both values and responsibilities. However, when drama occurs in some of the players’ lives and Carter’s son joins the team things get much more complicated. Carter is so serious about changing his players’ lives for the better that he closes the gym until the players improve their games. This movie is an excellent example of how sports relates to life and how it can be a medium for self-improvement.
Over this three day weekend, I stumbled upon one of my favorite movies, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. The Academy Award winner for Best Picture stars younger Jack Nicholson, Danny Devito, and Christopher Lloyd. This movie is about a criminal, McMurphy, who gets sentenced to a mental ward in order to escape prison. He wants to serve his sentence in the hospital environment and pretends to be mentally ill in order to be placed in the ward. He starts to take advantage and be the leader of his fellow patients inside while he butts heads with the head nurse, Nurse Ratched. The tension between Ratchet and McMurphy grows as the plot thickens and in the end McMurphy falls. On the surface it may not relate to Shakespeare, but upon further review it bares resemblance thematically to Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The main connection between Hamlet and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest lies in the two lead characters, Hamlet and McMurphy respectively, and the series of events that surround them. In the beginning, McMurphy is disgruntled with his current situation about being sentenced by is not terribly upset, and upon meeting Nurse Ratchet he conforms to her policies and ways. He establishes himself as the leader of his fellow patients when he realizes they all fear the authority of Nurse Ratched instead of thinking about how to one day live in the real world outside of the ward. Upon doing so, he upsets Nurse Ratched when he gambles with the other patients and wins all of their rationed cigarettes. In addition, he asks if she could change the work schedule so that he and his friends in the ward could watch the World Series. In both instances, she calls him out and humiliates him in front of his peers. On the other hand, Hamlet starts off as upset from the death of his father and the fact his mother so readily married his uncle and giving up the throne to him. Claudius, the uncle, tries to suppress Hamlet and keep an eye on him in case he tries to pull off any schemes or causes any trouble. This is very similar to how Nurse Ratched heavily drugs all of the patients with a concoction of daily doses that are required daily and she also intimidates everyone by watching them through the window of her warden office (a symbol of her tyranny and power). Upon seeing the ghost of his father, Hamlet seeks vengeance of Claudius for the murder of his father. In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, after a moment of realization, McMurphy seeks revenge on Ratched for how she humiliated him and how she oppresses everyone in the institution.
There are more similarities between these two characters, including their relationship with characters and how they use their wit. Both Hamlet and McMurphy attempt to overthrow and take revenge on the tyrants in their worlds, Claudius and Ratched. Both of these tyrants try to manipulate those below them and make it appear as though all is well in their state. Claudius does this by making Hamlet pretend as though he is happy to make it appear he is a strong leader like King Hamlet. Ratched does this by drugging the patients heavily, watching them from her office window, keeping McMurphy in check, and keeping everyone on a schedule. Hamlet and McMurphy react in similar ways, by keeping their plans low-key and pretending to conform to their tyrants’ ways. Hamlet pretends to be loyal and obedient to Claudius while McMurphy pretends to be truly mentally unstable as though he actually belongs in their (because he is actually not mentally unstable, he just said he was to get out of prison). They both use their wit with other characters. For example, McMurphy escapes the ward to take everyone out on an unauthorized fishing trip and he also tricks everyone to gamble more than they should in their games (poor Martini). On the other hand, Hamlet is very quick in making sure the guards actually saw the ghost of King Hamlet and he also wants to make sure Claudius killed his father.
Hamlet and McMurphy are both anti-heroes asthey are the protagonists of their stories but don’t have all of the ideal qualities of the idealized hero. Being tragedies, the anti-hero ultimately meets their downfall and these two tragedies are no exception. Upon his death in trying to restore the “rotten state of Denmark”, Hamlet dies and he is given a fitting military style burial for all of the recognized good he has done as a noble, respected figure. Similarly after receiving a lobotomy by the hands of Nurse Ratched, the Chief smothers McMurphy with a pillow as he wants his friend to be remembered for who he was and not in the mindless state he was bound to live due to the operation. Thus, the Chief kills his friend and allows him to die with honor as he remembered who he was and what he stood for. This prompted the Chief to symbolically use the sink, that McMurphy tried to throw at the window, to escape and run away. It is amazing how a movie so different in the setting and time can parallel the literature of the past.
Medically, Anosognosia is the lack of self-awareness (or in other words being unaware of what you don’t know). These unknown unknowns affect us everyday and combating them is crucial for not only self improvement but how we interact with others. It is also at the forefront of many of our popular stories, legends, and movies. Many of our favorite movies integrate anosognosia for plot development, to add depth to the film, or for characterization. Here are some brief examples:
Yes, “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away” anosognosia was used for both plot and characterization. Probably the most popularized instances of it comes from one of the franchise’s most iconic moments, the revelation of Darth Vader as Luke’s father in Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. Before the revelation, Luke had just known that he was to fight against the Sith and that Vader was his enemy. He knew that Darth Vader and the Galactic Empire were planning devilish schemes to gain dominance in the galaxy. After all, Vader built the Death Star, which was capable of destroying entire planets (poor Alderaan) and Luke thought Darth Vader had killed his father. However, knowing that Vader is his dad changes everything. It changes how he views his enemy, and makes him question himself along with the Odyssey he is on.
Another moment from the original (and really the only) trilogy comes from the Empire Strikes Back as well, when Luke and Leia kiss. Now at the time they did not know they were brother and sister, but it does change the plot and how the characters interact as Han also had a thing for Leia. Later when they figure out they are related, it makes it all the more dramatic and things between Luke and Han start to mend a little more.
The plot of Jurassic Park is heavily centered around anosognosia, as the unknown unknown to Mr. Hammond and his staff is the affect of the frog DNA on the dinosaurs. John Hammond creates Jurassic Park as a tourist attraction/living museum by bringing dinosaurs back to life from preserved “Dino DNA” found in mosquitoes in amber. Due to deterioration, there are gaps in the gene sequence so the scientists decide to fill it in with DNA from frogs. It is later revealed by Dr. Grant that some species of frogs are capable of changing sexes when there are not enough of one sex, prompting some of the all female dinosaurs in the park to switch genders. All of this confirms Dr. Malcolm’s chaos theory ideas on how “Life finds a way.” The scientists were unaware of how they did not anticipate the frog DNA would allow the dinosaurs to eventually breed. This was out of both greed from Hammond, for wanting to recreate dinosaurs as quickly as possible without regards to how, and also from his ethics.
Fight Club *spoiler alert*
For those of you who have not seen Fight Club, it is an excellent movie and I wouldn’t want to spoil the whole premise of the movie for you, thus I have put the spoiler alert. For those of you who have, I shall continue speaking of Fight Club (breaking the First Rule).
Now the first time I watched this movie, the revelation at the end was indeed mind blowing, to be honest I didn’t expect it. Watching it again, I kept my eyes open for any hints about the identity of Tyler Durden and how he relates to the narrator. The very beginning of the movie points out the narrator has insomnia but he doesn’t know it affects him to the degree that it does. The unknown unknown for the majority of the movie is Tyler Durden’s identity and that Tyler and the narrator are the same person. The narrator, including the audience, do not know the narrator and Tyler are the same person, Tyler just being his figment of his imagination. The whole movie focuses around the interactions between the narrator and Tyler and how they affect each other. Not knowing that he is making up a whole part of his life subconsciously, the narrator believes he is just living out his normal life with a new friend he has made. When he finds out Tyler is not seen by anybody else and that he is Tyler, it completely changes his perception of life.