Monday, September 15, 2014

Boycott the NFL

Many a time I get upset, angry, frustrated, downright furious.  In rare cases I get introspective.  In February of this year, once again, we were audience to another popular athlete taking it to his girlfriend/fiancĂ©e/woman.  The incident took place in a casino in New Jersey and the two were arrested and charged with assault.  They were both arrested.  Sources in the NFL, at the time, claimed that the NFL, the most powerful sports group in this country, couldn’t get the video from inside the elevator, but the one outside the elevator.  In retrospect, that video should have been enough, but it wasn’t.  As is often the case in these things, the truth came out.

Fast forward to last week.  The football season was finally back and all was forgotten, except it wasn’t.  TMZ released another tape, this one with the actual shot of Rice not only hitting his girlfriend, but also seeming utterly unaffected by the fact that she was unconscious on the floor.  The video of him dragging her out of the elevator becomes that much more damning given the fact that he, a huge man, didn’t have the decency to lift her in his arms and see if she was okay until a security guard came on the scene.  The entire incident and the NFL and Ravens’ handling of this debacle proves what many of us already know but refuse to accept: women are less than second class citizens in this country and in the world are viewed as worthless.

Strong statement?  Yes, absolutely.  Yesterday morning I watched the Sports Reporters on ESPN (one of the few things I will subject myself to on that biased network) and listened as the group assembled talked about how foolish the fan bases were for supporting their suspended players (Adrian Peterson for beating his kid, Hardy from Carolina for beating his wife and the list goes on).  Instead of outrage and comradery for a fellow woman, many are apathetic and disinterested in noticing what is really going on.  Do I blame Ray Rice, etc., for what happened?  No.  He is a victim of the lifestyle and culture that plagues this country.  No matter your colour, the message is still the same, women have no value.  Just this morning I had to listen to my mother, once again, tell me I was basically a failure at life because I hadn’t found a man, because my life can’t have value unless I have a man.  Is this what we want little girls to grow up to think?  Do boys deserve to grow up with this pressure either?

I’m beyond disgusted and appalled and I am sure I’m not the only one.  I read a lot of different news sites and Deadspin and Jezebel are great resources for actual facts as opposed to the views as spewed through filters on ESPN.  I don’t usually blather so much, but my basic message, plea, really is to stop.  We all need to stop.  We need to stop supporting these brands.  The only way people in this world are going to change their view is if we all take a step back and realise what we’re saying, how we’re acting, speaks volumes to those who are the most impressionable.  If you think for one second that kids aren’t seeing this and seeing what you can get away with, what is socially acceptable behaviour, you’re being obtuse.  If you support the NFL, you are a hypocrite.  Right now, the NFL, just on its stature in this nation, makes it the largest, most effective target and I am imploring everyone to stop and realise what I have come to realise.  Supporting the NFL sends a clear and concrete message that we are all too quick to satisfy our needs rather than doing what is right.  For the second weekend in a row, I haven’t watched one NFL game, one NFL highlight.  Nothing.  I am not going to waste my time on their company and if we, as women, as a whole, do the same, we can affect a change.  Many people don’t care about anyone but themselves, but this is never going to stop, never going to end unless we catch the attention of the world, if we don’t stand up and say, no, beating women is not a culture we should support.  If I don’t give one dime to the NFL this year, I hope many of you can match that challenge.  Don’t wear the jerseys, the t-shirts, don’t support one team.  

Join me in my boycott.  If you can’t manage the entire season, the then entire month of October.  The month is supposedly dedicated to breast cancer awareness, to women.  Well, then let’s make a statement.  Take your kids out and do something else, anything else, for a couple weekends.  The only thing people in this capitalist country respond to is not making money.  Let’s make the NFL a lot less money.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Movie Review: No Good Deed

Sometimes I like a movie to be philosophical, challenge my beliefs and make me see something I’d never see.  In other cases, I sometimes just want to stare at some eye candy and forget everything else going on.  This movie is the latter.

The story of No Good Deed is hardly remarkable.  A dutiful woman stays at home in a terrible storm while her husband goes off to celebrate his father’s birthday.  An escaped convict decides to pay her a visit and wackiness ensues.  I’m amazed at how much physical punishment Elba’s character could take, getting conked on the head countless times. If he were a professional athlete, he would not survive a concussion test, but being a professional athlete, he would pass the test of hitting women (you know I wouldn’t be able to resist that one).  The story revolves around a man who was convicted of murder and decides to break out once not getting paroled.  He exacts some sort of revenge on a seemingly unknown woman.  Without giving the ending away, the twist was obvious in retrospect, it made the ending slightly more bearable.

This movie was entertaining enough for a $7 movie, but given the talent, there was more that could have been done.  If it was slated as a horror movie, it would have been more fun to see Elba’s character exact psychological horror instead of an apparent stupid thug.  There were so many different ways the movie could have been made to be more compelling, but the theatre was pretty packed, so I guess all you really need is a shirtless sexy man (Idris Elba) and story is water under the bridge.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Movie Review: The Hundred Foot Journey

When I first saw this trailer, I thought, Helen Mirren, my mom is going to want to see this.  In addition to having the gifted Brit, the movie also featured an Indian family as the focus of the plot.  The story centers around an Indian family the emigrate to Europe after a catastrophe hits their family in Bombay (Mumbai).  After first settling in London, the father decides to move the family elsewhere, settling on a French village, across from a very well-to-do restaurant.

The family is not accustomed to life in Europe and while the children urge their father not to be foolish, he stubbornly refuses their please and opens an Indian restaurant across from the ritzy French restaurant.  There is a great deal of tension between the two establishments and the plot shows the French restaurant being very unwelcoming, at one point attacking the Indian restaurant.

The movie was light-hearted at times and serious at other times, all in equal measure.  Mirren was outstanding, as usual, her French accent perfect.  The Indian family was very easy to identify with, more so because I’m Indian and I took my mom to see the movie.  If you speak Hindi at all, there are a lot of little comments made by the dad that enhance the movie.  While I felt like the plot was weighed down unnecessarily by romance, the story was strong on its own without it.  The love story between two of the younger actors was really not adding much to the story and the movie ran long, as if it could have ended a good fifteen minutes earlier.  It is a fun movie.  For $7, I felt like I got my money’s worth.

Monday, September 1, 2014

A Good Reading Weekend

A day at the beach, or two, often leads me to have less time to whittle away watching TV or playing video games, of which I also finished a game I’d been struggling with since March, Thief.  I have to give it to Square Enix, they know how to make a game I end up liking even when I start out hating it.

The two books I slogged through this weekend were The Aladdin Factor, for book club, and The Name of the Rose.  The books really couldn’t be any more different and yet I found them both diverting and thought provoking in their own right.  The first book is a self-help book, one I was less than excited about when I saw it was from the same group who wrote the Chicken Soup for the Soul series.  The second book was recommended to me by a friend, so I didn’t know what to expect.

The Aladdin Factor is your typical self-help book.  I read Chicken Soup for the Soul at least a decade ago, and yet this book still seemed familiar.  The book is not really a book, so much as a series of small vignettes that are composed of all kinds of fonts, making it slight eyesore as you plod through the text.  There are lots of little stories, one of every variety and in that vein, the authors capture lightning in a bottle by doing a little bit of everything.  Like most self-help books, this one promises that anything can be done and you just have to ask. What is not really discussed is all the failures that are comprised of all the asking.  The idea is, ask and ye shall receive, which is ‘plagiarized’ from the Bible (so to speak).  There isn’t anything in the book that gave me an ‘ah ha’ moment, but there were a few areas that I thought could be reflected upon.  In all self-help books, I find it is more what the reader brings than what the author puts forth.

The second book I finished was The Name of the Rose.  When I first started reading this book it was a few months ago and I mentioned it to a cousin, who commented that it reminded her of Da Vinci Code.  While I can say it isn’t quite like that book, it has a lot of similarities to it.  The book was written in 1980 and what I found most striking about it was how dated the book seemed by the prose alone.  The book was originally written in Italian and I almost want to believe something was lost in translation, but that isn’t the case.  Mr. Eco wrote a riveting story about murder in a monastery in Italy in the 1300’s.  The time and location of the story made it interesting by itself, but the story came to life through the eyes of the protagonist, Adso, a novice monk following behind a master monk, so to speak. The murders continued to become more confounding as the novel went on and the ending left a little to be desired.  I found myself wanting to read more and more, yet my attention broke many times and I ended up skimming long chunks of passages.  I wonder now if Mr. Eco would have written so eloquently knowing the audience has a much shorter attention span.

Both books were interesting in their own right, but I can’t give either a true ringing endorsement.  I like to read and any reading enhances your life.  Giving a book a chance is the best thing any of us can do.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Movie Review: Sin City 2

About twenty years ago a movie came out that was mostly all black and white with touches of colour.  A little over ten years later, another move tried the same thing.  The idea of showing a black and white movie in an era where loud, vibrant colours rule the day, it is a breath of fresh air.  The first movie I’m referencing is Schindler’s List, a movie not to be watched without a box of tissues close at hand.  The second movie I’m referencing is Sin City, the sequel of which I watched this weekend.  What made any of these movies that much more stark was the contrast of colour against the nothingness of black and white.  It might seem disrespectful to bring Sin City into the same sentence with Schindler’s List, but from a purely cinematic perspective, the two seem to share a link.  Needless to say, the sequel to the 2005 hit, Sin City: A Dame to Kill for, has no connexion to either of the aforementioned movies save the presentation.

The movie begins with Marv, a somewhat deformed man who’s sole purpose on this earth is to beat things up, out of sorts and uncertain how he got where he got.  Behind him is a torn up patrol car and blood.  This doesn’t seem to trouble him in the least and the lack of colour makes it seem normal.  The movie doesn’t get any more interesting or compelling from this opening salvo and what follows are a series of disjointed yet connected stories leading to the murder of the main villains of the movie.  The first is Eva, the dame that is worth killing for from the title, played by a not dressed enough Eva Green.  Incidentally, after seeing Penny Dreadful earlier this year, I think someone should buy the woman some clothes!  The other villain is the father of the main villain from the first movie, a senator who is above the law.

The story turns into an orgy of blood and violence with far too many women wearing next to nothing.  The garishness from the first movie is lost to an abundance of nothing.  It was as if the movie was void of anything of value, the actors moving, the story progressing and yet nothing of consequence seemed to occur.  I felt increasingly bored and uninterested as the movie progressed.  There was little that surprised me and less to keep me engaged.  I can’t recommend this movie and wish it had some staying power, as the first movie had.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Movie Review: Let’s Be Cops

Somehow I didn’t realise the main actor in this movie was Damon Wayans’ son.  In retrospect, that was amazingly dense of me.  He looks a lot like his father and was slightly funnier, or perhaps the story had a little more to it.  The premise of the movie isn’t all that plausible, but you expect that at most comedies, or at least I do.  Justin (Wayans) and his roommate Ryan, played by Jake Johnson, played well off of each other throughout the story.  The two are in their thirties and have amounted to next to nothing, having moved from Ohio to LA in hopes of making something of themselves.  Ryan mistakes an invitation to a masquerade as a costume party and the two show up in cop uniforms, the same ones Justin had used to pitch his game idea.  After they leave the party, they discover that people really do mistake them for cops and they get up to all kinds of trouble.  Ryan doesn’t have a daytime job and begins to train himself to be a cop, getting embroiled into a huge operation of smuggled goods.

The story is far from perfect.  There are all sorts of really silly things that happen that you have to suspend great amounts of disbelief for, and at the same time, I really enjoyed it.  There was a point where Justin is being called a wimp (I’m making that G for the audience), and he decides to go into work and really go for it instead of being meek and scared, and it works.  While the moral of the movie is absurd, it had some staying power and with enough laughs and some slight drama, it was worth the $7 for sure.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Movie Review: Guardians of the Galaxy

Since Joss Whedon has got involved with Marvel and Disney, there is a different sort of expectation to all of the movies.  The Avengers, which feature the likes of Iron Man, Captain America and other star-studded characters and actors is the franchise that mints money for Marvel and Disney.  The latter knows how to milk a profitable cow and so they’ve delved further into the comic giant’s archives and unearthed the lesser popular Guardians of the Galaxy.
The story is one I haven’t heard, a comic I’ve never read and characters I’m utterly unfamiliar with.  This is usually a good thing for comics, less so, it seems, for independent properties.  There is some hidden depth to comics that I can’t quite quantify, something that Hollywood has yet to replicate with their big-budget movies.

The Guardians of the Galaxy starts with our title character, Peter Quill, watches his mother pass away and is abducted from Earth in the span of a few short minutes.  The story then picks up with Quill all grown and a bit of a roguish character.  He steals something that is sought after from around the universe and the chase begins.

The trailers don’t do the movie, or characters, enough justice.  The mixing of characters, their introductions and weaving of the friendships of the characters is heartfelt and a few napkins might be helpful while watching.  There are some very predictable elements to the story and the execution of the scenes by the able cast makes the whole thing feel like a surprise throughout.  It is nice to feel surprised and see things that pull at you, either to laugh or cry.  Hollywood has lost that effect on me for the most part, but it was nice to enjoy it once again.  I saw this in 3D and it was good enough that I’d say you might enjoy it as such.

The movie was fun.  The actors were superb.  I didn’t know Chris Pratt at all and he made Quill a relatable character that you wanted to root for.  Bradly Cooper was utterly outstanding as the voice of Rocket, the raccoon, and his performance (once again for me, as he was the only redeeming quality to Silver Linings Playbook), is just sublime.  That man brought this pint-sized character to the forefront of the movie and the heart and soul of the story.  This is one you won’t want to miss on the big screen.