Archive for the 'Entertainment' Category

Movie: Glory

June 16, 2005

Glory is a classic film that should receive as much respect as other great war films, like Platoon and Saving Private Ryan. More in line with SPR than Platoon, Glory is about what men will do to achieve the unatainable. But like Platoon, it is also about the human spirit and how men cope with disaster and triumph together. From the demoralization of the men intially in the training camps, to the abuse of them as labourers, to the triumph of their initial success on the battlefield and the excitement they hold as they march out to the last battle of the film, the human spirit lives on in the 54th regiment of Massachusetts.

Glory takes place during the Civil War in the United States, and is based on the letters of the Colonel Robert Gould Shaw sent to his parents back home in Boston. Shaw has been given the task of the organizing and training of the Union’s first all-black regiment. There are many challenges to be had with this rough assortment of men, including the fact that one of the enlistees is a good friend of Shaw and the Major. The prejudice against the company is extremely high, but the men perservere with assistance of the Colonel. After a while, they are assigned their first task near the frontlines.

Once there, the morale drops again. Tensions grow stronger and a rift breaks out amongst the camp, with Denzel Washington’s and Morgan Freeman’s characters in the middle. Watching the camp bond together again is inspiring to keep our hopes alive. If these men risked their lives to fight for their freedom, as well as their ancestor’s freedom, living in the great racial division of America, we should be able to accomplish our small feats for the sake of our own lives.

I’ve read other reviews that say the battles are the weakest part of this film. They fail to raise our emotions and let us attach ourselves to the battle, they say. But the film is not about the battles. It’s about the men, the human spirit. Watching this grounds you in who you are as a person and makes you question some of your actions against others, your prejudices and your own personal arrogance. Who are we to put ourselves above others? We should embrace eachother as we belong to the same species.

Another recommended film.


Movie: City of God.

June 15, 2005

City of God is a film that I rented from MovieLink.Com (which is a video rental site where you download movies directly to your harddrive and then are removed automatically after a given time limit). I was feeling kind of bored tonight and wanted something a little gutsy to watch. Naturally, I turned to the Foreign films section and started browsing. I didn’t have to go too far when this film popped out at me.

This is the short synopsis they provide while browsing a list of films:

      In Portuguese with English subtitles. 2004 Academy Award nominee. In Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious slum, a young man tries to escape the violence around him through his photography.

I believe I wrote before about how people always find items from other cultures and environments as the most interesting and popular, so just reading "Portugeuse" and "Rio de Janeiro’s most notorious slum," I was pretty much hooked. Then here is the extended synopsis:

      In Portuguese with English subtitles. Welcome to the world’s most notorious slum: Rio de Janeiro’s "City of God." A place where combat photographers fear to tread, where police rarely go, and residents are lucky if they live to the age of 20. This is the true story of a young man who grew up on these streets and whose ambition as a photographer is the world’s window in and ultimately may be his only way out.

That sounded like the movie for me. Any place that scares the police intrigues me, even though I’m not entirely sure if I would venture there myself in the real world. And after watching the movie, I can fully believe that the police wouldn’t want to go in there.

I don’t want to talk more about the storyline, because I think it would take away some of the glory of the film, but I will say that the style of the film was wonderful to watch. The story is built up in layers: some build up, others peel away, which is fascinating to see unfold before you. The action sequences are full of chaotic moments but are filmed in a chaotic way which makes sense to you as you’re watching. This didn’t work out so well in some movies (Bourne Supremacy comes to mind) but is incredible to watch when it does work. The story of the photographer is always present, but plays the role more of narrator than protagonist.

My favourite part of the whole film has to be the ending. The climax feels epic to me, and the denouement is eye-opening. I would like to say more about it, and I’m sure it’ll easily be discovered with a few searches, but I won’t say anything now.

Rent this film. It does contain violence, drugs, some sexuality. Not something to watch with kids, certainly.

The S.H.I.E.L.D.

June 15, 2005

It’s probably one of the greatest shows on television right now, if not ever, and there’s not much being said about it. The entertainment rags prefer the light stuff, or pop tv that doesn’t take many risks. A rare thing on television is a show that takes risks or has good writing, that can stand out in an age of cookie-cutter tv. The S.H.I.E.L.D. is one of these shows.

I’ve only seen the latest season (the 4th) and I’m so hooked, it makes me want to go to BestBuy tomorrow and pick up the other seasons. The combination of the characters and plot is explosive. I think that’s the only way I could really describe this show properly: explosive.

The show highlights (or at least in this season) the dark side of the police force in a large metropolitan city. This isn’t a show about solving a crime by examining threads of clothing under a microscope, or finding a bum on the street who was a witness and following that to find the killer. It’s about corruption of the police, the side deals between authorities and criminals, the battles for turf between rival gangs, about mutiny within the force. It’s juicy. Taking one fifteen minute chunk of these show leaves drippings coming out of your chops and making you hunger for more meat. The SHIELD is not a drug that makes you addicted to it, but a shot of testosterone in the ass and makes you roar with rage. Your body becomes a Neanderthal again and it’s alright to go slug a guy if he doesn’t give you the information you require. Dangerous stuff, this is, and it keeps me coming back for more.

The cast of characters will probably change in the next season, but it’s set-up like any other cop show it seems. You have a police captain, you have investigators, you have undercover cops and uniform cops, plus people higher up. Simple enough, except when you take into mind that the police captain is a raging bitch who will stand up to anyone and is stubborn enough to do anything it takes to get her way, which is always the right way. Her right hand man in the force is a berserk macho guy who when in the face of the enemy is a real asshole – but he’s totally cool: the hero antagonist. The berserker has a gang of his Viking lords with him who will raid, pillage, and burn the places they travel to – ultra cool, especially when they go from one place to another quickly chasing a guy. The investigators are a white man, black woman pair who are constantly in odds with eachother, still fighting for the same cause, but a thick layer of racial tensions hangs about them that keeps things interesting. The uniform cops didn’t have much airtime in this season, but are the opposite pair from the investigators: white woman, black man, with another air of racial tensions, but different, since the black man grew up in the area where the station is. He’s a local brother and doesn’t like taking down the people he may have grown up with. That’s the core of the station.

The next layer is above or below that core, depending on how you look at it. You have a city councilman who’s directly linked to the police station as a lawyer and has ties to the Drug Enforcement Agency. The man is a whuss, but pure evil. He’s the Gollum of the show: dark and slimy, going behind backs to get what is most precious to him. The man alongside him has ties to the police chief, like Sauraman, honestly. But below them you get into Antwon Mitchell, one of the biggest (literally), bad asses in LA. Runs a gang, the Don of Farmington, with his posse of boys and networks of drug traffickers. Not afraid of the cops and that’s what ends up being the climax of this season. There are other characters, as well, from informants, to gang members who get busted, to spouses and girlfriends, but it’s the characters mentioned above that really give this show a roller coaster ride.

The plots are gritty and you feel one show flows into the next; whatever the shoe picks up in Episode 1 it carries that shit all the way through to Episode 13. You don’t miss a heartbeat in the action as it rolls along, meaning you don’t miss much character development along the way- oh, and you do start to care about these characters, unlike so much of the other crap on television. Just writing about this show makes me want to walk into the neighbourhoods surrounding my building in hopes of having a gun shot at me. It seriously fucks with your head and causes you to stop your fist mere inches from pounding your tv set in excitement while screaming, "Hooyah!"

Forget about the stuff on NBC. This is the REAL Must-See TV.