Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Self Doubt

Last week I watched a show where time travellers met Vincent Van Gogh about a year prior to his suicide.

Major plotlines aside, they spend time literally bumping into wet canvases all over his flat, while listening to Vincent muttering how his art was rubbish and trying to assure him that it really is excellent art....not that Vincent puts any stock into what they say.

I am not sure what Vincent thought of his art in real life....for a man so emotionally up-and-down, the world still doesn't really know a lot about what he felt. Was he suffering from mental illness? Was it something physical like metal poisoning from the paints he used or alcoholic poisoning from the Absinthe he drank? No one really knows.

I admit I've enjoyed a lot of Vincent's work (I am not a huge fan of it all, since some of it is very dark and sombre, but I love his brighter periods). I have avoided watching a movie that my mother has suggested to me time and again "Vincent and Theo"....mostly because I can't muster up the enthusiasm to watch something so incredibly depressing. Mom has told me several times how hard it is in the opening scene as one of his paintings auctions off for millions of dollars, and then the scene cuts to one of Van Gogh living in poverty as his paintings fail to sell.

As I said....depressing.

Watching this program though had me wondering, would we change our self destructive thinking if we had our own personal cheerleaders in our corner....telling us how marvelous we really are if we could just see it.

In this show the time travellers take Vincent into their time machine and tell him that "as a treat" they are going to show him something really special. They zip to modern times to a museum in Paris and drag Vincent past masterpiece after masterpiece as they urge him to hurry up and see this one particularly busy exhibit.

Vincent stands in amazement as he finds himself in a wing of the museum filled with nothing but his works of art.

One of our intrepid time travellers turns to the museum curator and asks him to answer truthfully, where does he think Vincent stands in the rank of artists. Our curator pauses for a moment and then launches into how Van Gogh leaves all other artists behind. He speaks of the awe he feels for a man who can look beyond the pain and grief of his own life and still paint the beauty of the world around him. "Anyone can paint pain" the curator states. "It is the greater man who can see through all of that and still paint the joys that can be found in life." (okay, its a paraphrase, but you get the point).

By this point Vincent is in tears as he listens to this total stranger's glowing assessment of Vincent's place in life. To be honest, I was in tears as well.

Renewed, Vincent vows to soldier on and to not let his demons get the better of him again.
Our time travellers take Vincent back home and then rush back to modern times to see all of the new art that came from Vincent's new, extended lease on life. Sadly, there is none. Vincent still commits suicide and the world moves on without him.

So what is the point of this? I am not entirely sure. Ever since I saw this last weekend its been zipping around in my brain and not really leaving me be.

I used to think how wonderful it would be if I could just go back in time and tell the sad child I once was that everything is going to be okay. Things will work themselves out. Life isn't as bad as you think it is...but would I have even listened? Would I still be the person that I am today (the good, the bad and the ugly) if I hadn't made the journey that I did? Would I still look at the world around me and see so much beauty if I hadn't gone through so much pain and darkness?

Self doubt is a demon that only we can kill; no one can do it for us. As wonderful as it would be to have a knight in shining armor come along and slay our dragons for us; we have to be willing to pick that sword up and fight for ourselves. I may do battle often with my demons, but there are days when the clouds part and the sun shines all the more brilliantly because I have chosen to defend my little place in this world.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

First movie trailer can be found here. Am looking forward to seeing this one in December. Hopefully it will make enough money that additional films will follow...

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Shawna's Movie Review

The A-Team

Mixed reviews on this one....

Opening night...packed theater. According to the ticket booth reader board 3 showings in a row were completely sold out. I showed up early, got my center seat and happily waited for the movie to start.

The new A-Team movie has been reset in modern times; instead of the Team being Vietnam vets they are now in the Afghan war. Its also a bit of a prequel in the fact that as the movie opens they have not been framed for "a crime they didn't commit". In fact, the first 20 minutes or so sets the whole "framed caper" up.

That being said, the first 20 minutes I sat in the audience wondering just what I had gotten myself into. Humorous, yes. Action packed, yes. Over-the-top, heck yeah...but not what I was thinking. We are introduced to the characters one-at-a-time, and are dropped in the middle of a mission that takes a few minutes to fathom just what is going on. Turns out this is the first time most of the team are meeting one another, in totally unbelievable fashion. We then jump forward a few years and the Team has been working together for awhile now when they are framed, stripped of rank and thrown into prison.

This is where the movie gets good.

Jailbreak. Plans of revenge. Crazy heists that keep you guessing. Tons of action with huge explosions. One-liners that leave you laughing. An ending fight that you have to see to believe....this is the A-Team at its certifiably craziest best.

Liam Neeson is great as Hannibal Smith...amazing piece of casting, and the one that made me truly excited to see this movie. Bradley Cooper plays Templeton "Face" Peck...and a lot of reviews from female fans are just gushing over how ripped he got himself for the role. Yes, he has his shirt off quite often, but seeing as how I am not into muscles, I wasn't really focused on any sort of drool factor. He is, however, great in the role and a good choice to take over from Dirk Benedict (who I admit I did have a major crush on at the time). Mr T's role of B.A. "Bad Attitude" Baracus is played by movie newcomer (and pro wrestler) Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. A bit cheesy at times (but then Mr T had the cheese market cornered when he played the role) I found myself liking the character when I really had a hard time tolerating him in the series. Best of all is Howling Mad Murdoch...his opening scene, swinging on helicopter rotors singing Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Round" is downright fact, Sharlto Copley steals every scene he's in and has me searching for other films he's been in.

Jessica Beal, Gerald McRaney and Patrick Wilson (funny, he's not listed on as being a part of the cast) round out the major characters.

Ending impression....worth seeing. If you are not a fan of the show you might want to wait for the DVD though and watch it on a smaller screen...somehow, seeing as this is a remake of a television show, makes me think that watching it on tv would feel right at home. Stay through the end credits as there is a fun cameo from 2 of the original cast members that's worth watching.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mini Vacation

Hey everyone...just a note to let you know that I have decided to extend my visit here in Moscow for another day, therefore I am not on the road today heading home, but am sitting here, comfy, in my sister's living room. As some of you may have noticed, I have no cell reception here, but should be back in decent coverage range by noon (about the time I hit Boise).

Hope you are having a wonderful day wherever you are, and I will blog to you again on Thursday.

Shawna's Summer Movie Review - Prince of Persia

Four little words: Go See This Film

Oh yeah, 2 definite thumbs up

Since I am only partway into the first game (thanks to my sister for letting me play it on her X-Box 360!) I am taking her word on the fact that a lot of this movie has NOTHING to do with the game....but don't let that stop you.

Jake Gyllenhaal certainly has fun in the lead role....not an actor I would have thought of for the part, but very well done. Don't let the hype about "oh, the Prince should have been played by an actual Persian" controversy daunt you...he was well chosen. His Prince Dastan is a rough and tumble rogue that you actually care to see come out ahead and a wonderful surprise to see Alfred Molina who steals every scene he's in. The only downer I found was Gemma Arterton as Princess Tamina, who frankly was an annoying pain in the butt...she's pretty, but you really feel Dastan could have fallen for someone a little less (dare I say it?) bitchy. Somehow I think another actress could have pulled it off and made Tamina at least a little bit likeable, but then I have yet to find a role Gemma has played that I have enjoyed her in.

The role of Tus totally had me guessing where I'd seen that actor wasn't until after the movie that my sister Miya informed me she'd finally pegged the actor as Richard Coyle, who played Jeff in the Brit series "Coupling" (Oh, Jeff!) Nice to see him in such a strong, manly role. Ben Kingsley is his usual fantastical self and for total movie geeks (like myself) the actor playing King Sharaman is Ronald Pickup who was the voice of Aslan for the BBC versions of the "Chronicles of Narnia" (no, I didn't know it until I looked it up on IMDB; I just knew his voice sounded familiar).

It seems Prince Dastan has to save the world from the Sands of Time being unleashed (which would destroy mankind) while also trying to clear his name from a crime he did not commit. Add one snooty little Princess who has dedicated her life to keeping the Sands hidden and safe, and you have the premise for our movie...expect a lot of banter and verbal sparring between the two. There is an overabundance of amazing action shots (many of the moves from the game are recreated here) and you just have to love a film that allows actors to just let go and have fun with it. Smaller characters are given room to branch out as well (as in the above-mentioned Alfred Molina who will keep you chuckling); amazingly, for a cast of so many different characters, it manages to keep you following the plotline without getting too bogged down into everyone's personal story, yet you still find yourself becoming concerned for their fates. Our "baddies" (the Hassansin assassins) are uber creepy...perhaps a bit over the top, but they are definately not guys you'd want to run into anytime soon. The set-up takes a little longer than you'd like, but its worth it to get to the action of the film, and gives you necessary background information for later.

Don't bother sitting through the credits....after all of the Persian themed music, having Alanis Morrissette singing the end title song is a strange choice, and there is no Easter Egg after the credits stop rolling.

All-in-all....not a movie that will win any awards, but one I will be purchasing when it comes out on Blu Ray...and probably will see again before it leaves the theaters.