Pray For Oklahoma

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I live in Oklahoma and today there was a really bad tornado (EF4, possible EF5) that went through the city of Moore. Tons of damage and destruction and I have heard there are 51 fatalities. I am very thankful that where I live in Oklahoma was far enough away from the path of the tornado. Please pray and keep those who are hurting in your thoughts.

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The Great Gatsby

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the-great-gatsby-poster1The Great Gatsby (2013 version) was directed by Baz Luhrmann, the same guy who directed Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge. The film is rated PG-13 for some violent images, sexual content, smoking, partying and brief language.

Well, where to begin? I have a lot to say about this new take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic book, but I’ll try not to write too much. This film has had so much controversy and hate surrounding it ever since people found out it was going to have modern music in it. I think that’s just ridiculous. I mean, come on, Baz Luhrmann directed it. What did you expect?

When I saw this movie for the first time on opening weekend (in 3-d) I went into the theater with an open mind. I re-read the book before seeing the movie and re-watched the 1974 Great Gatsby so I would be able to see how closely this version of the film followed the book and how it compared to the 1974 version. The whole modern music thing did not outrage me as much it seemed to have other people. I wasn’t about to judge a movie I hadn’t seen yet. But, you know what? I think the soundtrack worked really well in the movie. It fit the scenes perfectly. From what I’ve read on IMDb message boards, a lot of people keep saying the modern music was a distraction. But, that’s their opinion. In my opinion, the modern music was in no way whatsoever a distraction and the film had a great blend of the songs that are found on the soundtrack and actual 1920’s music. As far as the rap/hip-hop songs in the film go, well…Hip-hop is about the closest thing to jazz we have nowadays. What hip-hop is for people nowadays is what jazz was for people back then. Plus, it’s not like the entire soundtrack is nothing but rap. The songs are sung by modern singers, but some of them almost have a 1920’s kind of sound to them. I still don’t understand the hate people are having with the music. I don’t remember anyone being in an outrage with all the modern music in Django Unchained. I’m pretty sure no one in the Old West was listening to Jim Croce or James Brown. Baz Luhrmann made some original, creative choices when making this film and to me, those choices were executed really well. To get the point across of what the 1920’s were like (sex, booze, partying, complete carelessness and carefree ways) some changes were to be made to make it more enjoyable to modern audiences. When watching the 1974 version, during the party scenes, classic 1920’s music is playing and that’s cool and all, but after seeing the 2013 version and watching the party scenes with loud, modern dance music with a slight 1920’s twist, I feel like I now fully understand what it was like to be living in the 1920’s. Anyways, my favorite songs on the soundtrack are: “Over the Love” by Florence + The Machine, “Young & Beautiful” by Lana Del Rey, “Love is Blindness” by Jack White, and “Together” by The xx.

This movie is loud, colorful, and crazy (but in a good way). Visually this movie is wonderful. Yes, there’s CGI, but a lot of movies nowadays have a lot of CGI. Acting is superb. I actually found myself feel for the characters, care about what happens to them. Coming from someone that has read the book more than once (it’s one of my favorite books), this movie followed the book soooo much better than the 1974 version. Not that the 1974 version didn’t have direct quotes from the book, but the new version had a lot more direct quotes from the book and just about every scene in the new film was taken straight out of the book. As in, there weren’t numerous scenes in the film that maybe had the same dialogue as the book, but was taking place in a totally different environment. This version also does a better job at explaining some things (like how Jay and Daisy met, etc.) than the 1974 version. The one thing that is definitely not in the book are the scenes of Nick at the sanitarium. It might not be in the book, but it makes sense with why this guy would be telling this story about a guy named Gatsby. Making it seem like Nick Carraway is the author of The Great Gatsby is not completely far-fetched as some people think that Nick is based off of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I can definitely see that. There is a line in the book (that is in the movie, too) where the narrator, Nick, makes a comment about “reading over what I have written so far.”

My favorite performance in the film was definitely, hands down, Leonardo DiCaprio’s. His portrayal of Jay Gatsby was spot-on with Gatsby from the book. Not that Robert Redford is a terrible actor or anything (I remember when I watched the 1974 version in high school after reading the book I thought Robert Redford did a good job in the movie), but after seeing Leo’s take on Gatsby, I won’t be able to watch the original the same way again. I also thought Carey Mulligan’s performance was much more preferable compared to Mia Farrow’s. Newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker gave a good performance. Lois Chiles as Jordan in the 1974 version I thought was alright, but with her, as well as Sam Waterston’s performance of Nick Carraway, I felt was not very developed. Jordan and Nick in the original film seemed to always have the same expression and monotone-like voice throughout the entire film. I liked Tobey Maguire’s take on Nick Carraway. I do like Bruce Dern as Tom in the original, but Joel Edgerton definitely did a good job as Tom, too. One of the things that irks me with the original version is the lack of chemistry between Robert Redford and Mia Farrow. Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan definitely have better on-screen chemistry.

I saw the film in both 3-d and 2-d. The 3-d doesn’t really add much, but it does give the viewer the feeling of really being a part of the movie, which is the point of 3-d…obviously. I loved this movie. When reading the book, I had an image in my head and the 2013 version has fulfilled what I imagined while reading the book. What I will suggest when seeing this movie is keep an open mind. Do not go see it already hating what you’ve seen from the trailers and the modern music. Keep an open mind! If you don’t like this version or the 1974 version, well, there’s always the 1949 and 2000 version, neither of which I’ve seen.

Last tidbit…One of my favorite scenes in the new version is when Jay and Nick are waiting for Daisy to come to Nick’s place for tea and how nervous Jay is acting and even after Daisy and Jay are reunited, Jay still acts nervous. Leo did such a good job during that scene and that entire scene and dialogue is just like how it is in the book. I love it when movies follow the books their adapted from closely… 🙂

Remember, keep an open mind when seeing this film, old sport.

Silver Linings Playbook

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Warning: Contains Spoilers

Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy drama film that was released in late 2012. The movie is based on the book by the same name by Matthew Quick. Directed by and adapted screenplay written by David O. Russell. The film is rated R for language and some sexual content/nudity. It has a 7.9 out of 10 on IMDb and 92% on Rotten Tomatoes.

This is a film that I didn’t really know much about when it first came out. I like Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and did consider going and seeing it when it was still in theaters, but just never made it. I ordered the DVD from Netflix and watched it the other day.

The movie centers around Patrick “Pat” Solitano (Bradley Cooper) who has bi-polar disorder. He is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves in with his parents, Pat Sr. and Dolores (Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver). While at the hospital Pat forms a friendship with Danny (Chris Tucker) who is having legal issues with the hospital preventing him from leaving. Pat learns that his wife, Nikki (Brea Bee), has moved away. Pat’s father has lost his job and is resorting to bookmaking to make money to start a restaurant. Pat wants to get his life back on the right track and wants to reconcile with Nikki. We learn that Nikki put a restraining order on Pat after a violent episode. When having a session with his court mandated therapist, Pat recounts what led him to be admitted to the psychiatric hospital. Pat had come home early from work to find his wife with another man and Pat nearly beat the man to death. Despite all that, Pat does not believe he needs to take medication for his disorder.

Pat has dinner with his friend, Ronnie (John Oritz) and Ronnie’s wife, Veronica (Julia Stiles). At dinner, Pat meets Veronica’s sister, Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence). Tiffany is a widow who has some issues of her own–she lost her job, partly because she slept with just about everyone she worked with after her husband’s death. Pat and Tiffany end up developing a friendship. Tiffany tells Pat that she can deliver a letter from Pat to Nikki (since Pat can’t because of the restraining order) as long as Pat will agree to be Tiffany’s dance partner for a dance competition. The two begin practicing dancing with the help of Danny when he is finally released from the hospital. Pat starts to believe the dance competition will help him get Nikki back and show that he has changed. Pat receives a letter back from Nikki hinting at reconciliation.

Pat Sr. asks Pat to attend a Philadelphia Eagles game as a good-luck charm because Pat Sr. has bet just about all of his money on the game. Pat skips dance practice with Tiffany to go to the game. A fight breaks out and Pat along with his brother and therapist are escorted from the game. The Eagles lose the game and Pat Sr. is furious. Tiffany shows up angry that Pat skipped practice with her and then Pat Sr. berates Tiffany stating that everything has been going bad since Pat started hanging out with Tiffany. However, in probably one of my favorite scenes, Tiffany begins to point out that the Eagles do better when Pat is with her and she begins to list all the times Pat and her were together when the Eagles were playing. Pat Sr. is then convinced that Pat being with Tiffany is good luck and so he makes a parlay with his gambling friend. The conditions of the parlay are if the Eagles win their game against the Cowboys and Tiffany and Pat get at least a 5 out of 10 at their dance competition, Pat’s father will get all the money he lost back.

Pat is at first reluctant to be in the competition under those conditions, but Tiffany persuades him by telling him that Nikki will be there, even though she is lying. Later, Pat re-reads the letter from Nikki and notices some things in the letter that make him realize that Tiffany actually wrote the letter.

At the night of both the game and the dance competition, Tiffany is upset to discover that Nikki is actually at the competition. Tiffany gives up and begins drinking with some random guy. Pat convinces her go out and do their dance. This was a pretty funny scene; everyone else at the competition are clearly dance professionals, while when we see Pat and Tiffany do their dance, it’s…crazy. Definitely funny. The Eagles win the game, so now Pat and Tiffany just need to get at least a 5 on their routine. And….they get the 5 points. While everyone else is confused why they are so excited about their low score, they don’t care because they won the parlay. Pat walks over to Nikki and Tiffany watches as Pat whispers something to Nikki. Tiffany, upset, leaves. Pat Sr. tells Pat that Tiffany left and that she loves Pat and it would be wrong if Pat didn’t go after her. Pat chases after Tiffany confessing that he loved her from the moment they met and is sorry that it has taken him so long to realize it. Pat and Tiffany end up together and Pat Sr. ends up opening up a restaurant. Happy ending, the end.

Overall, I enjoyed this film. From what I’ve heard, the film does a pretty good job at showing what living with bi-polar is like; I don’t know anyone with bi-polar so I can’t really vouch for that, but it is what I’ve heard. Both Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence did a fantastic job. The two of them had great chemistry. Jennifer Lawrence won an Academy Award for Best Actress, while nominated for Best Actor, Bradley Cooper did not win. I do feel like there was a bit too much hype surrounding this film, but that is pretty common for movies that are heavily nominated for awards at the Oscars. I really enjoyed this movie and after watching it I think I might read the book.

The Cabin in the Woods

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Warning: Contains spoilers

The Cabin in the Woods is a horror film that was released in April 2012. The film was written by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard and directed by Drew Goddard. It has a 7 out of 10 rating on IMDb and a 92% on Rotten Tomatoes. It is rated R for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity.

Let me just go ahead and say it: I freakin’ love this movie. I can watch this film all the time and not get tired of it. As someone that likes scary movies, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that I would like this movie. At first glance this film seems like a typical horror film where a bunch of teenagers go out into the woods and party and eventually get killed one by one. But it isn’t really like that.

The film does start off with a group of friends going on a trip to the woods. The characters seem totally cliche, as in they are straight up stereotypical horror movie characters. The jock, the whore, the stoner, the boring smart guy and the good girl/virgin. The jock being Curt (Chris Hemsworth), the whore being Jules (Anna Hutchison), the stoner being Marty (Fran Kranz), the boring smart guy being Holden (Jesse Williams), and the virgin being Dana (Kristen Connolly). However, the whole film isn’t necessarily about a group of friends being chased by monsters. As the movie progresses we learn that these characters were chosen and manipulated to fit the typical archetypes of horror films by some organization to complete some sort of ritual. The main guys that seem to be in charge of everything are Steve Hadley (Bradley Whitford) and Gary Sitterson (Richard Jenkins). Another technician seen throughout the film is Lin (Amy Acker). The organization is in control of everything that goes on at the cabin the group of friends are staying at. There are cameras watching the characters’s every move and are even give mood altering drugs to cause the group to do certain things, such as reducing their intelligence and cause the characters to venture down the creepy cellar.

From left: Curt, Holden, Jules, Marty, and Dana.

From left: Curt, Holden, Jules, Marty, and Dana.

Back at the facility, all the different departments of the the organization bet on which monster will be chosen. From a fan of horror films, I like the references to other monsters from horror films that are shown on the big whiteboard. It’s something true horror fans will appreciate.

The whiteboard

The whiteboard

From left: Sitterson, Lin, and Hadley.

From left: Sitterson, Lin, and Hadley.

While down in the cellar the characters come across a vast array of items. We later learn that these items are the way the characters end up choosing their fate, as in choosing how they die. Dana ends up reading an incantation from a diary (Rule #1 of horror movies–don’t read some weird incantation/Latin/whatever out of a book) that used to belong a girl named Patience Buckner who was abused by her sadistic family and Dana ends up summoning the zombified Buckner family. The first one to die is Jules after her and Curt have sex in the woods (Rule #2 of horror movies–don’t have sex or you will die). Curt is able to run away. Marty, the stoner that has been smoking weed every second, is actually the smart one in the group. We end up learning that all the mood altering drugs don’t affect him because of the marijuana he has been smoking. He discovers a camera in his room and believes he is on a reality show. He is paranoid and keeps thinking that they are being manipulated, like puppets. He ends up being dragged away and killed by one the zombie Buckners. Marty is probably my favorite character in the film. He’s funny and like I said, the only one that actually seems to actually get what is going on. Curt, Holden, and Dana get into their RV and try to flee, but while driving through a tunnel it starts to collapse, forcing them to back up. Curt decides to jump over the ravine to the other side using his motorcycle. It is unsuccessful; he hits some sort of invisible force field and falls down to the bottom of the ravine. Holden and Dana get back into the RV and drive back to the cabin, but one of the zombie Buckners is hiding in the RV and kills Holden. The RV crashes into a lake and Dana swims toward a dock and ends up getting attacked by another zombie Buckner. But wait! Who just knocked out the zombie Buckner attacking Dana? It’s Marty! He isn’t dead! However, him being alive sucks for the technicians in charge of the ritual.

After Marty dismembered the zombie Buckner that tried to kill him earlier, he stumbled upon some control box and found an underground elevator. Marty and Dana take the elevator and discover a vast array of monsters that are imprisoned. Some of the monsters are homages to monsters from various classic horror films. Dana sees one monster (a homage to Pinhead from the Hellraiser films) holding an item she recognizes from the basement earlier in the film. She realizes that the items in the basement determined which monster would be released. Marty and Dana end up causing a system purge, releasing all the monsters that were previously locked up. This part of the film is pretty bloody/graphic. The monsters go on a rampage killing just about everyone in the facility. Hadley and Lin are killed. Sitterson ends up escaping into some underground tunnel system. Dana and Marty go down underground where Dana accidentally stabs Sitterson killing him. Dana and Marty discover a temple-like room with large stone tablets that have various carvings. Dana and Marty meet the Director (Sigourney Weaver). She explains that the ritual is to appease the Ancient Ones that live below the facility. The Ancient Ones are kept below by the rituals that sacrifice five young people that represent the archetypes–the Whore (Jules), the Athlete (Curt), the Scholar (Holden), the Fool (Marty), and the Virgin (Dana). It doesn’t matter the order that each is killed, as long as the Whore is first and the Virgin is last (the Virgin’s death is optional, as long as she suffers). The Director tells Marty and Dana that there have been other rituals around the world, but all of them have failed and if the Ancient Ones awake they will destroy the world. The Director tries to convince Dana to kill Marty and Dana points a gun at Marty, but is attacked by a werewolf that had escaped earlier. The Director and Marty fight until zombie Patience Buckner shows up and kills the Director. Marty pushes both the Director and Patience down below toward the Ancient Ones. Marty and Dana accept what is happening and then a gigantic hand belonging to an Ancient One rises up destroying the facility and the cabin, thus implying that the world will now end.

This is a film that might be confusing to some. A friend of mine, after watching the movie, said they didn’t get it all and didn’t like it. However, this is a film that horror fans will love. But even if you don’t watch scary movies, I think that you can still enjoy this film and even have a few laughs at the more comedic scenes. The film is filled with twists and turns. At the start of the film, you think you know what kind of movie you’re watching, but just wait… If you haven’t seen this film, watch it now! It’s streaming on Netflix.

Last tidbit…One of my favorite scenes from the movie is after the cellar door opens up by itself and Curt says that the wind must have blown it open (a phrase that has been said in other horror movies before) and Marty replies with: “Uh, and that makes what kind of sense?” Thank you Marty for pointing out how absurd it is for someone to say “the wind did it” when that clearly makes no sense at all.