Changing Times

Yesterday the Supreme Court voted same-sex marriage legal across the country. From what I’ve heard, it appears there was thunderous applause and an outcry of support for the decision. However, there are still those that seem to think this was a bad decision and it undermines the Constitution.

You can read a story about it below.

Same-Sex Marriage Legal

I get why there are divided people in the country over the issue. But I really don’t see what the big problem is. And I think that’s the reason why there is such a divide. Many people are taking their own beliefs, what they have been taught and using it as ammunition to fuel a fire to create more of a problem than there should be.

Let’s face it. There are many kinds of people in this world from all walks of life. Many have differing beliefs and values from one another. I can’t believe that several hundred years have passed in this country and there is still bigotry and hatred for things, or people for that matter, that may be different than the “norm.” It really pains me to see people treated differently because of their religion, beliefs, or sexual preference. Whether their sexual preference is a choice or some chemical imbalance in their brain, it makes no difference to me. Because what I see is a person. A person who wants to live. A person who wants to be loved and to love. A person who wants to work and live life to the fullest and not be tormented or ridiculed for the clothes the person wears, or their beliefs or faith, or the color of his or her skin, or even the person’s sexual preference. Which, I would venture to guess, are basically the same things that pretty much every one else in the country wants.

Let’s look at it this way. The Constitution was written more than 200 years ago. This is no longer the 18th century. Let’s pick up our heads and move into the 21st century people. Let’s stop taking everything written in the U. S. Constitution at face value. Times have changed. Things have changed. Let Congress get their heads out of their asses and adapt the Constitution for the 21st century and beyond.

And that goes for EVERYONE in the U. S. If you don’t like something or someone because of his or her beliefs or sexual preference or whatever, then fine. Just keep your mouth shut and keep walking. Because that person has a right to live just as you do. We are all HUMANS. Let’s all live as civilized beings and maybe, just maybe, we can make ourselves and this country stronger.

Jurassic World – A Return to an Original Vision

Rating 4/5

With the release of “Jurassic World,” the fourth installment in the franchise, the story takes us on an adventure at a place that was seemingly originally envisioned by John Hammond, played by the late Richard Attenborough. Released by Universal Studios and Amblin Entertainment, with direction by Colin Trevorrow, the film runs just over two hours and is perfect for some summer blockbuster action. The film is executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the man who brought us the first “Jurassic Park” in 1993. Watch the new trailer below.

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Going into the film, I was thinking, “Great, another one!” I thought shouldn’t they have learned something from the previous films? That is, not to play “God.” But I guess there are still greedy people, corporations and business that get in the way of good judgment. And I guess without those people, there would not be a movie for audiences to see.

That is part of the story in “Jurassic World.” BD Wong plays Dr. Wu, the only returning character from the original (if you don’t count the T-Rex). Wu and his team of geneticists have created a new hybrid dinosaur at the request of corporate CEO Simon Misrani, played by Irrfan Khan. However, he did not necessarily want what was produced. In order to keep the public’s interest, they wanted to create bigger, better and scarier. We learn Wu and his team have created a mixture of the T-Rex and some other animals and another secret mix of something else, (later we find out what that secret is). After the introduction of two parents sending their kids (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) off for a weekend to see their aunt, who is also the operator of the park on Isla Nublar, Claire Dearing, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, we see the park in all its full functioning theme park glory, from hotels to gift shops to large exhibits and a “petting zoo” with baby dinosaurs. Soon after, we also meet the hero of the story, Owen Grady, played by Chris Pratt, who has become something like the latest new action hero, and he doesn’t disappoint in this. Grady is ex-military and is now an animal behaviorist who has “trained” a group of velociraptors. Pratt’s character is countered by a military contractor (Vincent D’Onofrio) who plans on using the raptors as weapons. A “containment anomaly” occurs and thus the action and story develop.

The film has included scenes that remind us of the original “park,” and even a showdown with the T-Rex and the new Indominus Rex. The film has no hesitation to get started and continues until the climax and resolution. We not only see Howard as a no nonsense park operator but as a thriving action heroine who is not afraid to get a little dirty and run in some hectic action sequences…IN HEELS. All of the acting was done to near perfection within the world of the film. Writer/Director Trevorrow, along with Rick JaffaAmanda Silver and Derek Connolly have delivered a piece that is fun, exciting, and worthy of a summer blockbuster. It has already grossed more than 400 million dollars in the two weeks it has been out. Not bad for a film that cost about 150 million to make.

I thought this film captured the essence and magic of the original “Park” with all the acting, editing, direction and special effects. Everything that went in to making this film made it a true “Jurassic World.”

The Play Within a Play: “Shakespeare in Love” film review

Rating 5/5

A film that made its United States nationwide release in 1999 went on to win numerous awards, including Oscars for best picture, best actress, best supporting actress, best writing, and best directing, among others used a useful dramatic strategy to convey the story.

The film was “Shakespeare in Love” and starred Joseph Fiennes as the bard and Gwyneth Paltrow as Viola De Lesseps, the love interest and muse for Shakespeare for the film.

For those who haven’t seen the film, there be some spoilers that follow.

The film’s opening uses two short bits to establish the time and place of the story, which is in the Elizabethan age of theater in England. The second bit provides comedy and starts the action of the film. Philip Henslowe, played magnificently by Geoffrey Rush, is a theater owner who has not paid his bills and is being tortured by Hugh Fennyman, (Tom Wilkinson) a producer and businessman.

The first scene after these bits introduces Shakespeare. Henslowe requests Will (Shakespeare) write a new play for his theater company. However, a problem is introduced in this scene as we, the audience, discover that Shakespeare has lost his gift of writing, a sort of “writer’s block.” This sets the action in motion. Will must come up with a new play to perform or it will be curtains for Henslowe’s company.

A bit that follows reveals Viola De Lesseps. She has a strong love for the theater. This is important to the story because this movie parallels the play Romeo and Juliet. She is also set to marry Lord Wessex (Colin Firth) in a few weeks. In her desire to be on the stage, she dresses as a man, Thomas Kent, (since women were not allowed to perform on stage at that time). Will becomes infatuated with Viola after a chance meeting and thus begins the love affair that would become the tragedy we have come to know.

I would say the major dramatic strategy used in this film is parallelism. Almost every scene and bit parallels the play “Romeo and Juliet,” since that is the play in which Shakespeare is trying to write, which is better than the original title “Romeo and Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter.” The film cleverly and strategically places the story of the film in the context of writing the play, which becomes more and more of the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet as William and Viola’s romance begins to grow.

The film also does a nice job to let the viewing audience in on the film audience (groundlings and upper class), costuming, props and stagecraft of the Rose Theater during this time. The other cast members worth noting were Martin Clunes, Richard Burbage; Antony Sher, Dr. Moth; Simon Callow, Tilney, Master of the Revels; and Ben Affleck (who played a cocky but determined actor Ned Alleyn); and Dame Judy Dench portrayed the Queen.

A remarkable cast. Witty writing and acting. Impeccable directing. Brilliantly produced. The film, “Shakespeare in Love,” is wonderful entertainment. Additionally, this film has a “theatrical” sense to it (as it is about theater). In all my experience and years in academic theater, I have always enjoyed the story within the story, or the play within the play. This film had it and played it very well.

“Shakespeare in Love” was directed by John Madden, and written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. It has a run time of 123 minutes and is rated R.

Face/Off: a review at “face” value

Rating 4/5

In the film “Face/Off,” directed by John Woo, the story concept centers around FBI agent Sean Archer, played by John Travolta, seems so obsessed in stopping his nemesis Castor Troy, played by Nicolas Cage, that the Travolta character “becomes” Troy in order to stop a biological bomb from detonating in the city.

This is an older film, released in 1997, but if there is anyone who hasn’t seen it then be forewarned…there are some spoilers.

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In the film’s opening, Archer is playing with his son at a carnival. In a confrontation between Archer and Troy, Archer’s young son is shot and killed. Troy is eventually caught, but is in a coma. This is really the point the sets the whole action of the film in motion.

Soon after Troy is captured, the FBI learns of a bomb threat that is set to go off somewhere in the city. A plan is devised through a breakthrough surgical procedure where the face of Troy and Archer are “swapped.” Now, Archer looks and sounds like Troy. In doing so, he hopes to infiltrate the prison where Troy’s brother, Pollux (Alessandro Nivola), is being held in order to find the location of the bomb.

Seems like a pretty simple idea. Archer discovers the location of the bomb, gets out, helps save the day, and then is reunited with his family. But as anyone knows there has to be some conflict in the story. So, while Archer is in prison “disguised” as Troy, the real Troy wakes up from his coma and gets the doctor to transplant Archer’s face on him. The procedure is complete so Troy kills the doctor and destroys all of the equipment and records that explains the operation. Now Archer is in real trouble.

All Archer wants to do is to get Troy and return to his life he had before with his wife and family. These two characters have a classic hero-villain relationship and they each play “each other” well. There is a long history with these two characters and sets up the dramatic conflict in the film well. Archer wants Troy because he killed his son and, well, because Troy’s just a bad man. Overall, the acting was decent in the film, which also brought me into the world of the story.

I found the pacing of the film to move very well, as it almost had to being an action thriller. There were some slower paced bits and sequences, but only for the needed character and story development and really didn’t detract too much from the pacing to bring me out of the story. John Woo seems to have blended all of these elements well into a watchable action film.

Other notable actors in the story were Joan Allen, who played Eve Archer (Sean’s wife) and Dominique Swain portrayed Jamie Archer, their daughter. Colm Feore was Dr. Malcom Walsh, the doctor who performed the transplant, and Gina Gershon played Sasha Hassler, Troy’s girlfriend.

I was a little hesitant at the science of the film at first, with the whole transplanting of faces and altering voices. It may have been a little far fetched at the time (late 90’s), but I quickly moved beyond that and bought into the story and action of the film. And with technology and science now, the possibilities may have been set in motion.

Obviously there are some who may have not liked this film. Others may have thought it was just horrible. I for one viewed it as entertaining action. It had interesting, varied characters, a good story, and action.

“Face/Off” was written by Mike Werb and Michael Colleary. It has a run time of 138 minutes and is rated R.