Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bane vs. Uncle Owen: My review of Warrior

Warrior (2011) is much more than your average fighting movie.  I've seen some of the Rocky movies, The Fighter, Karate Kid, and even Real Steel (which I really enjoyed).  While all of these are very similar in nature, usually stories with underdogs or family issues (or both), they don't really handle the heavy emotional themes as well as Warrior.

My gut tells me it was the acting on the part of Tom Hardy, Joel Edgerton, and Nick Nolte. But thinking upon it more, it was really the performances combined with the amazing screenwriting and directing.  The way the dialogue slowly and delicately reveals more and more layers of past emotional complication and family history is a wonderful method of storytelling by director/screenwriter Gavin O'Connor.

The film starts off with Tommy (Tom Hardy) showing up at the door of the now-sober father he and his mother fled from when he was a kid.  They hadn't seen each other since that day many years before.  Tommy really doesn't say much, he doesn't try to reconcile with his father, he just wants his father to help him train for an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) tournament, no emotional strings attached.

Later we are introduced to Brendan (Joel Edgerton), a relatively unknown UFC fighter turned physics teacher who is probably going to lose his house because of medical bills from his daughter's open heart surgery.

Just like string cheese (mmm string cheese) the next layer is peeled and we find out that Tommy's father is also Brendan's father, and they are also estranged. I won't give any more away, but I'll tell you, there are some powerful scenes, brilliantly acted by Hardy, Edgerton, and Nolte.

But what about the fighting?  It was awesome.  Warrior perfectly balances the action with the story.  This isn't just a showy fighting flick.  That doesn't mean the fighting is missing, though.  It is most certainly there and it demonstrates why MMA is way cooler than boxing (so many boxing movies...) and much more enjoyable to watch.

Warrior run 140 minutes and is rated PG-13.  Because it's a fighting film, I wouldn't watch it with younger kids, but older kids (boys especially) will really get into it.  I give it a strong Jimmy-was-moved 9 ramheads out of 10.  Go see this film! (You can see it on Amazon Prime like I did :).

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Jimmy's Movie Preview: Life of Pi

One of the upcoming films that caught my eye, mainly by its trailer, is Life of Pi.  It is based on the novel Life of Pi by Yann Martel and it about a kid who survives a "disaster at sea" and is stuck on a small boat.  The only problem is, he's joined by a Bengal tiger.  In a miracle of events the tiger doesn't eat him.

From the stills it looks like it covers more than just the "at-sea-with-a-tiger" part of his life, it probably covers a good deal of it...besides, it is called "Life of Pi".

For the record, this is sponsored post (that is where all the cool photos come from).  My opinions still are my own and I wouldn't agree to post about if I didn't want to see this film.  

Here is the official synopsis:
Genre:Adventure-Drama in 3D
Release: November 21, 2012
Director: Ang Lee
Screenplay by: David Magee, based upon the novel by Yann Martel

With LIFE OF PI, director Ang Lee (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”) creates a groundbreaking movie event about a young man who survives a disaster at sea and is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with another survivor…a fearsome Bengal tiger.
Here's the trailer: And here are some movie stills:

Finally, since I have them, here are a few behind the scenes photos:

I gladly welcome thoughts on the film both before and after you see it!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Election: What God has to say and other thoughts

I'm not going to share my opinions, I'm just going to quote the One who really knows what He's talking about.  (Then I'll quote Jon Foreman of Switchfoot.)

Romans 13:1-7

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Matthew 21:15-22

15 Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. 17 Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” 

18 But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? 19 Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, 20 and he asked them, “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?”

21 “Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”

22 When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

 1 Peter 2:13-17

13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15 For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17 Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.

Some other wise words...

Finally, I'd like to share with you some of the words of Jon Foreman, a Christian man from the band Switchfoot:
The self-evident truths that bind us together as a nation are not our arguments or our greed. Rather, the shining hope of our land is the democratic notion that all men are created equal, with equal access to liberty, justice and civil rights. In a government of the people, by the people, for the people, we define ourselves. The American Dream is your dream. And my dream. We are the problem and the solution; we each have an irreplaceable role in our communities and in our nation. No matter what the statistics say, people are not numbers. And neither are you. You can serve our nation in ways that even the president cannot.
Every day you cast your ballot—with your time, with your money and with your actions. You vote for the president once every four years. But what about the 1,460 days in between? The question facing our country is: What kind of nation do you want to live in? Yes, the United States has problems. But has there ever been a generation free from worry? Our country is run by fallible people who make mistakes like you and I. But my heroes, my favorite Americans, are the ones who spend their time changing the world instead of complaining. People who are facing the irreducibly complex issues of our times with practical love and tangible solutions. Because America starts in our own backyard.


The trouble with a democracy is, you're in control. And we're all counting on you, for our economy and our nation. For better or for worse, you were born into a place of privilege and responsibility. Our country could use a few true patriots, modern patriots, rational patriots.
You can read the whole Op-Ed here.  I would recommend it.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


"Help me Obi-wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."

When we think of "hope" most of us usually think it of it as an action.  "I hope that the Packers win."  "I hope for a good job."  "I hope today goes well."

The thing is, though, this isn't hope.  At least not how God sees it.  Hope is a state of mind, a state of body, a state of self.  And there is really only one place our hope should be, and it isn't Obi-wan.

Do a search for hope and every one has something to do with putting our hope in God.

God is firm.  He is truth.  God is the hope.  Hope comes from Him.  We hope in Him.  There isn't much else that matters.

Hope in God does not dissappoint. - Romans 5

God is the hope that know no bounds. - Psalm 65

Hoping in earthly things: comfort, possessions, wealth... is futlle.  Only true hope in God can outlast life and overcome death, sin, and suffering. - Job

There is only one hope. - Ephesians 4

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games Review, only a week late

I FINALLY got to see The Hunger Games yesterday afternoon and I was very pleasantly surprised.

Other reviewers liked it, but I was still not sure how they could accomplish translating a very good book, written from the first person perspective of Katniss--a girl who really doesn't say much out loud but certainly thinks a lot--into a successful film.  I wondered if most of the film would be narrated by Jennifer Lawrence.  Not, so:  director Gary Ross took a different creative approach.

Ross decided to film it mostly with handheld cameras and close in-your-face shots.  There was also no narration, no first person.  Going from the printed page to the medium of film definitely required change, and Ross grabbed the bull by the horns.

First off, the casting was very good.  Jennifer Lawrence was perfectly cast.  She could play the tough, smart, tomboy Katniss very believably.  The one thing she did really well was convey Katniss' silence, her working things out in her head.  Her lack of respect for the Capitol, but her need to survive.  Josh Hutcherson plays the perfect Peeta, likeable, good on camera.  Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Stanley Tucci and Liam Hemsworth all worked perfectly.  (I loved Tucci's Caesar Flickerman).  I'm still not sure about Lenny Kravitz as Cinna.

The emotion and spirit of the books is what shined the most.  It was obvious that Gary Ross gets it.  The handheld camera technique really captured the way Katniss was feeling:  overwhelmed by everything, fighting for survival.  Also since we weren't in Katniss' head, some other scenes were added to clarify those things that were merely implied in the book.

The music worked.  It wasn't as sweepingly epic as The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter scores, but it really worked.  In a way it captures the bleakness of the situation, supplementing Katniss' lack of expression and her silence.

The cinematography and approach to this film is what could win it awards.  The explosion in popularity in the past months is what is making it money.  The story and spirit of the books is why I would really like to see this one again.

The one thing I wish they would have perfected were the muttations at the end of the games.  I wanted to see each of the deceased tributes in them.  It really adds to the horror and tyranny of the Capitol.  (Also, having Cato being slowly eaten with his body armor and Katniss' mercy kill would have be effective as well, but alas, it was PG-13.)

The Hunger Games runs 142 minutes and is rated PG-13.  You want to teach a kid about authoritarian government, show them this film (or give them the book, which I still like better.)  I give The Hunger Games 10 ramheads out of 10.  This film lives up to the hype.

Monday, March 26, 2012

I'm still Hungry... Hunger Games: Reactions?

I've been sorta busy lately.  You see, my wife and I had our baby three weeks ago.  This is why I have posted many blogs lately.  This is also why I [gasp] haven't seen The Hunger Games yet.  My wife and I are going on Saturday.  In the meantime, I would like reactions from those who have seen it.  You could help shape my review of it (coming right after I watch).

P.S.  I got my wife to read the series and she loves them.
P.P.S. Fatherhood is awesome.  My son (James Lee Pautz III) is amazing.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Some TV I've been watching lately...

You may have read my Fall TV Picks and I'll confess, I haven't stuck with everything.  Also, not everything is still on.

MondaysTerra Nova's first season is done.  House got old again (also, I heard that it is ending).  I guess I'm not really into procedurals as much.  I really don't watch any Monday shows at this time.

Tuesdays:  I'm still watching Parenthood with my wife.  It is a good family show and since we will be parents in less than a month, we very much enjoy it.

Wednesdays: Psych has been on its break but will return soon.  Looking forward to it!

Thursdays: The Office is quite good.  It is definitely more of an ensemble show now that Steve Carell is gone, but I still think it is hilarious, but in a different way.  Community is on an indefinite break.  I'm not sure why because it was finally getting good.  This season started off a little stale, but it was picking up steam, especially with the alternate timeline episode.  I also watch Grey's Anatomy with my wife.

Fridays: Chuck has ended (sad) but I actually watched all of the episodes of it, starting at season 1.  I used the wonderful and now my lovely wife got me season 1 on DVD.  This is an excellent show that is definitely underrated.  Fringe is amazing. Probably my favorite show on TV right now.  I look forward to watching this one every week.

Saturdays:  I started watching The Firm and then it got moved to Saturday nights to die.  I'll watch it until the end.  This is very well-acted and well-written show, but the late 10 Eastern/9 Central on Thursday on NBC was kind of hidden.  I want it to survive, but I don't think it will.  I just hope they give some closure when it does officially die.

Other:  I watched the Pilot for the new show Awake (starring Jason Isaacs a.k.a. Lucius Malfoy) on Hulu.  The concept is really fascinating and the acting and presentation is very good.  I really think this one can do well.  I hope so...NBC doesn't have much going for it ratings-wise.

What TV are you watching?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

It'll make you paranoid, but educated

What if there was a virus that can spread around the world in a few months and can cause death in a matter of a couple days?  There are plenty of those right now, but we have vaccines for them.  What if we didn't?  The 2011 film Contagion explores this 'what if'.

It explores this first and foremost from the perspective of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and a few of its doctors (Laurence Fishburne and Kate Winslet included).  This is the major U.S. government run agency that is responsible for these situations.

The film also looks at it from the perspective of an immune widower (Matt Damon) who lost his wife (Gwyneth Paltrow) soon after her return from a business trip to Hong Kong (and her secret sexual affair during layover on the way back).  Later that day he lost his young stepson.

Finally, the film also follows a professional conspiracy blogger (Jude Law) and his opinions on the virus and how it is being handled by the government.

This film really gets the viewer thinking about what he/she would do if this really happened.  Because it approaches the concept in such a believable way (unlike The Day After Tomorrow, et al.), it really has the ability to scare you.  How would you handle these situations?  What would you do?  I was more affected by the chaos that ensued when quarantines were set up than by the effects of the disease itself.  Fear can lead people to do desperate things.

Contagion really digs into the politics and the procedures that take place behind the scenes in government.  Everyone wants a say and this leads to inefficiency and slow-flowing information.  It is fascinating, yet unnerving.

Contagion is a good film covering a scary topic.  There are a few graphic scenes (an autopsy and the dying people) and a little language that would prevent me from showing a younger kid (who would probably be bored anyway), but otherwise this is a clean film.  Contagion runs 106 minutes and is rated PG-13.  I give it 8 ramheads out of 10.