Archives For movies

The other morning I was downstairs making breakfast for my daughter. Now, on account of being banned from all things cooking due to a slight pizza mishap (who burns take-and-bake pizza? this guy), making might just be a slight exaggeration. Let’s put it this way: I make a mighty mean microwave scrambled egg.

So there I am cracking the eggs into a microwave-safe soup cup, pouring a little heavy cream adding a dash of salt, and whipping it all into a fluffy froth when my daughter puts on Toy Story 3. Not the beginning; no–it was the end. You know the part, right? Where Andy is ceremonially handing over his beloved toys to Bonnie.

As I stood there watching from the kitchen, it just struck me all at once:

Bonnie could be my little girl, and Andy my son, who’s sixteen and will only be with us a few scant more years. And then my daughter will shortly thereafter follow. All it took were those few scant moments, and although I knew my kids wouldn’t always be around, I felt it.

I was unmanned as stood there stirring eggs. Mouth agape, I felt my chest constrict, and suddenly my eyes blurred. I felt gut-punched right in the feels. Now, don’t get me wrong: I’m a man of great feeling, but I usually keep it all tightly under wraps, beneath a veneer of cynicism.

But that moment, infinitesimal in a lifetime made up of moments, wormed its way past my watchful dragons, and right into my heart. My daughter was going to grow up, my son would soon be leaving home, and I wouldn’t always have the opportunity to microwave eggs, play with them, hang out with them, watch the same movies time and time again…

“Bella,” I said, voice quavering. “I’ll be right back.”

“What about my eggs?”

“They’re almost ready. Daddy needs to go see mommy.” And so I did the only thing I could think to do: I went upstairs, eyes moist with tears, crawled into bed with my wife, told her the tale of moment I had whilst making eggs, and let her hold me. Afterwards, I felt like Buddy the Elf: a cotton-headed ninny-muggins. A goof.

But I wouldn’t change a thing.

God, help me to cherish such moments as long as they last. Thank You for each and every one.

How about you, dear reader, have you had any such moments? Ones that hit you right in the feels? The comments are open below.

Nota bene: this post contains spoilers. If you haven’t seen Interstellar proceed at your own risk.

My wife watched Christopher Nolan’s new film Interstellar last weekend. I’ve been pondering it ever since. The film presents a rather bleak (or dystopian) view of the future, showing a world where most crops are dying due to an unstoppable blight. Corn is shown to be the hardiest, but it too is showing signs of falling to the blight. Moreover, due to the dying plants, oxygen levels are dropping.

Mankind, of course, can’t live without breathable air.

What happens next is something which appears to be supernatural–numinous–by which the film takes great pains to explain scientifically. Murphy, the daughter of the film’s protagonist, Cooper, seems to be receiving communications from her bookshelf. Some force, or entity, is using Morse code and/or gravity to leave her a message. This message contains coordinates, which lead to a secret government facility.

And thus the plot of the film is kicked into gear. The secret facility, it turns out, is the last NASA facility left, where they are working on a plan to save humanity. It seems that a wormhole has been opened near Jupiter, which is seen as a chance to find colonizable planets. Other missions have gone, by have not returned. Cooper, now a farmer, was once NASA’s best pilot, and is seen as this last mission’s best hope for success. He of course agrees, leaving his children to be raised by his father-in-law.

What follows are thrilling scenes of space travel, alien landscapes, intrigue, danger, betrayal, and salvation. It is this last of which I’m going to write.

Cooper, it turns out, becomes the means of mankind’s salvation by becoming a conduit through which ascended human beings communicate to his daughter, Murphy (who grows up to become a scientist while her dad is gone), who completes a formula to move mankind off of Earth.

As a lifelong fan of sci-fi, this didn’t bother me, namely the idea that our hope lies amongst the stars. That’s a trope as old as time. Philosophically, however, Interstellar is firmly grounded in materialism and humanism. All that exists is only what we see, and somehow we evolve to save ourselves. Becoming somehow so transcendent that we can’t communicate except by leading a man to the farthest reaches of space, and then dropping him into a singularity. My biggest beef (if you will) with the film is this: future humans are so transcendent we can make wormholes, and indeed black holes, but can’t, you know, speak.

Now there were aspects of the film I appreciated, particularly the notion that love transcends time, space, gravity, and death. But in the end I’m glad it’s fiction, and that our hope lays not within ourselves, but in God.

The God Who became one of us, spoke to us, showed us the way. Because the Gospel according to Interstellar is a bleak one.

What do you think? Did you see the movie?

To cap off our anniversary trip, my wife and I watched Dumb and Dumber To. And boy was it ever. Dumb, that is. There were a couple of laugh-out-loud moments (this depends, of course, upon your tolerance for toilet humor), but in my opinion it fell far short of the original. Which is not very far to fall at all, I guess.

Either that, or I’ve grown since the original came out twenty years ago (hint: I was twenty-five then, and I guess what I think is funny has changed). Don’t get me wrong: being a guy, fart jokes can still be funny, but a lot of what was passed off as humor in this movie was cringe-inducing. For instance, the name (spoiler warning) of Kathleen Turner’s character is Frida.

Frida Felcher <--warning unless you know, don't look that up on Urban Dictionary. Trust me on this.Beyond that, the story was by-and-large a retread of the original:Road trip? Check.Homicidal companion? Check.Girl in peril? Check?I could go on.Point being this: unless you're feeling uber nostalgic for the original, don't bother. There aren't even any memorable lines like "So you're saying there's a chance?" here.Dumb and Dumber To is rated PG-13 for crude humor and language. In my view, it’s time for Harry and Lloyd to fade into the sunset.

Folks, if you’ve seen one Liam Neeson movie you’ve seen them all. Seriously. They’re all Taken. If you remember that film, Neeson’s character, Brian Mills, had a particular set of skills. He will find you, and he will kill you.

We get it.

I mean going all the way back to one of his first big screen appearances in Excalibur, it’s clear Neeson was Taken With Arthur. In the Dead Pool, someone has Taken His Life. Darkman? They’ve Taken Mah Face. Rob Roy? Taken My Honor. Schindler’s List? He was Taken With the Jews. Stars Wars, Episode 1: the Phantom Menace? Taken By Maul. Non-Stop? Taken On A Plane.

I could go on, but as you can see: everything Neeson has done is Taken.

Your turn.

This post was occasioned by the Crash Synchroblog.

Apparently, I have been impacted by the death of beloved celebrities long before I knew what a celebrity was. You see, as a toddler I’m told I watched Bonanza with my parents. I wasn’t yet three years old when Dan Blocker (“Hoss”) died, and I’m told I cried. Many artists, actors, writers, performers have died since that day in May, 1973; I can’t say that I’ve again reacted with open weeping.

But I have felt profound sadness, even melancholy. When someone with whom I had spent many happy hours leaves this life behind I’m not untouched. The late Douglas Adams, with his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy books, made me laugh. Made me think. When he died–after a workout at the age of forty-nine, thirteen years ago this past May–it touched me more deeply than I would have supposed. I suppose it’s because I knew his work, had as I said above, spent many a happy hour reading of Arthur Dent’s galaxy-spanning adventures, busting a gut all the while.

Adams’s light had gone out.

I felt the same when I heard Robert Jordan had succumbed to cardiac amyloidosis in September of 2007. I had spent hours, days, months reading his Wheel of Time books. Though I didn’t know the man, it felt like an old friend had passed beyond mortal realms and into the undiscovered country (from whose borne no traveler returns).

I felt it again yesterday upon hearing the news of Robin Williams’s passing. I grew up watching Mork and Mindy, saw The World According to Garp in the theater, enjoyed Mrs. Doubtfire (“It was a run-by fruiting!”). Essentially, I had grown up with him. He was with me from childhood to marriage to childrearing. I was able to share his work with my children: Toys, Jumanji, the Night at the Museum movies.

Now his light, after a lifelong struggle with depression, has gone out of the world. I’m not going to disparage his struggles, but neither will I romanticize his death: suicide is never the answer, folks. Life is a gift, and is worth holding onto even thought it may appear all light has gone out of it. Because, even as dark as things may seem, there is at least the promise of dawn. Maybe I don’t understand at all clinical depression, and have never personally been deep down that dark rabbit hole. That’s as may be. I guess what I’m saying is: why now? After beating back his demons for 63 years, what made the man decide not to fight on (having slain those dragons before). What made him despair of living?

Maybe we’ll never know.

What I do know is that his legacy will live on through his work, and that he is being widely memorialized with words, and scenes, from his best know roles: Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting, and Good Morning Vietnam. As iconic as those are, I’d like to leave you with this scene from 1984’s Moscow on the Hudson:

Good night, Robin Williams. When you said, in Bloomingdale’s, that you “vant to defecht” none of us knew that it would be this soon.