March 29, 2011

welcome to shutter island, we hope you enjoy your stay

the sure sign of a great movie is that when the credits are rolling – you wish you could watch it again… immediately!
this is no truer than with scorsese's incredible thriller, shutter island, which i watched for the second time last week.

in case you haven’t caught it, teddy (dicaprio’s troubled character) is a federal marshal sent to the island asylum to investigate the mysterious disappearance of a patient. accompanying him is his newly assigned partner chuck (raincoat ruffalo). you know immediately that this investigation is going to be anything but straight forward, especially when we meet up with dr. cawley (creepy kingsley), who proves to be of little help to our investigators.

scorsese has created an incredible visual treat. here we have a film noir that harks back to the old movies of hitchcock, and it effectively grabs you by the shoulders and drags you in. the dark lighting, long shadows, awesome music, the storm that isolates the island from the mainland, the lighthouse [who doesn’t love a creepy lighthouse?!?] and let’s not forget the memorable characters who occupy this mad island.

all that aside, it’s the raw emotion that you get from the movie of both the characters and their surroundings, that make this movie so incredible intense. all the characters serve a purpose, they are not just empty plot devices, and they are fully realised, and help make the movie deeply moving and occasionally very hard to watch.

this is not just a movie with adult content, this is one of those rare hollywood movies that’s not aimed at teenagers suffering from adhd. it’s an intelligent, emotional movie aimed at those of us who don’t just want to watch a movie – we want to experience it.

great filmmakers like scorsese, malick, haneke, salles, chan-wook park and aronofsky should all be encouraged [if not forced] to make films outside of their usual area of excellence and show the likes of bay, sommers, ratner and even spielberg a thing or six.

anyway – i digress – shutter island is a great example of a modern thriller, with an ending that has kept myself and my friends talking since i first saw it last year. 

March 18, 2011


as i’m sure everyone is, i’m horrified by the images, videos and reports that have saturated the media showing us the extent of the destruction caused by the tsunami and earthquake.

living in chester means that we are approximately 120ft above sea level but it doesn’t stop me thinking that this type of destruction could literally happen on my doorstep. especially when you take into account that there are fault lines all around us – the mid-atlantic ridge, there is a major fault line close to spain, and another that runs through the north atlantic above iceland and the uk. pretty close. while these aren’t as active as those in the pacific and indian oceans – they are there.

the striking thing for me though, is that this natural disaster has hit a country and society that is in so many ways very similar to ours. The wealth and possessions, the agriculture and buildings – this is a modern country. the farms and roads and vehicles swept away by the sea could so easily be mistaken for those that surround us in our own countryside. 

obviously i used to be horrified when these things happened, but it never really struck me in a deep emotional way, except making me want to hold tight onto ali never to let her go!

back when the tsunami of 2004 hit i had just become a dad again - we had a 1 month old baby boy, our third son. i can remember giving him and my other boys [who were then 5 and 3] an extra hug and kiss when i went to bed that christmas night. i prayed that god would protect them. while they slept safe and sound in their warm beds i prayed that he would be with those parents who were searching desperately for their lost children and for the children searching for their mums and dads.

until i had experienced the paternal love that suddenly wells within you when you have your own children, i realised that i felt a much more real sense of loss for those people. that  i hadn’t had a real sense of how much a father loves his children before, and the lengths a dad will go to to protect and save his children,
a selfless and sacrificial love. i would die for my boys, every - single - time.

my faith in jesus christ means that i trust him to protect me and my loved ones when i cannot. when they are away from me, when we are travelling, when we are battling illness and disabilities and loss.
faith in jesus does not mean i don’t expect bad things to happen and that my life will be rosy and problem free. bad things do happen and there are many times when i have cried out and shouted at god in anger and frustration.
having faith in him means that i have faith jesus will help me [and us] through those times. he does… and he has.

i don’t tend to talk much about my faith on my blog, but it is a strong faith that god is always present. not just in my life, but in the world around me.
we are all his sons and daughters – and he would die for us…
…he did die for us.

the f.r.o.g. of the title is from a wristband that one of my boys wears. it is a reminder to 'fully rely on god'.

March 03, 2011


i’m not generally a fan of costume dramas, but i am known to partake of the odd one. going way back in our own history is intriguing, and when done this well, can be fascinating. i know that it’s never entirely structured on fact and there is always the element of having to please the viewer and bring home the bacon, but to get a glimpse of what life was like nearly 500 years ago is mesmerising.
the movie follows elizabeth i ascension and early days on the throne. she was the second daughter of king henry viii, and is a protestant. queen mary i, the first daughter of henry viii, is catholic as per her father. their religious differences threatens elizabeth's life [even the pope sanctioned her assassination!), and then severe illness sees off queen mary.
elizabeth is now queen and surrounded by advisors who may or may not be plotting against her. it’s gripping stuff.
cate blanchett is stunning as the young queen, and also geoffrey rush is brilliant as her ruthlessly loyal bodyguard, sir walsingham.
this is one of those historical dramas, when the final credits have rolled, that makes you want to go and find out more about this time in our country’s colourful history.
there are historical inaccuracies present – such as mary queen of scotts being killed in the chamber rather than beheaded – as the history books state. why this needed to be altered for the movie I do not know – but it doesn’t distract too much.
in my honest opinion we should be spending more time teaching our children the distant history of this country and a little less time focused on ww2.

March 01, 2011

the hurt locker

well the student movie night didn't go quite as planned. there was some miscommunication regarding who was actually bringing along the dvd - resulting in us not having one to show. oops!
anyway, after gaz took a trip home [btw - i'm not referring to myself in the third person, it's a different gaz!] we settled down in the cold churchhouse loft with snacks and our very large screen to watch 'the hurt locker'.
i could go on about how it garnered best film oscar [amongst many] but i personally don't put any worth on the flakey goldness of the oscars as they really only have one purpose - and that's to do a little self glorification. as it stands, the hurt locker *was* the best film of that year... period!
so it was good to get a chance to watch it again. it's not really a standard war movie in that there is no over the top action, non-stop large scale battles, or even the psychological examinations a la platoon. it's a relatively small film, the focus being on one man and the 2 or 3 men who he works with. these guys are bomb disposal experts - in iraq. we come into the movie part way through their tour, ride along with them in the incredibly tense situations of ied's that they have to deal with along with snipers - they are never safe, and you get a real sense of that. then we leave them in the same way we were introduced to them. it's great to see a movie that breaks the mould.
that's all there is to this movie. it's tense, sometimes slow, often thoughtful, sometimes moving, always brilliant.
there were other good movies that year [avatar, inglourious basterds, district 9, up] but there really was no contender for *best* movie...

February 24, 2011

the book of eli

another movie night coming up this w/e with some friends and students from the uni.
the movie of choice this month is the ‘book of eli’. i have already seen this twice, but it's a good'un!
denzel is eli, a lone drifter travelling the open highways of a washed-out post-apocalyptic landscape. in his possession is the only remaining bible in the whole world [oddly enough, he also seems to be the only remaining black man!]. gary oldman is carnegie, a crazy [no surprises there] despot controlling/trying to control a small town. carnegie wants the bible so he can use it to… have more control over the people!
into town strolls eli, and that’s when the touch paper gets lit.
personally i’m a bit of  a fan of the post-apocalyptic genre, although some aspects do get rather repetitive - lone wanderer – check, washed out landscape – check, cannibalistic animal behaviour – check. however, this is not your usual run of the mill p-a movie. this is a far more powerful movie than you first realise.
the film is essentially a christian metaphor. eli appears to be protected by some greater supernatural force, on a journey guided by "God". this is a movie about faith and believing in something/someone bigger than yourself. if you haven’t already – go see.
even though it does have it’s weak points, this is an excellent film.
yes ‘the book of eli’ is violent – but so is most of the old testament. hey, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
faith in the one true God in the world that we live in today looks a certain way, this same faith probably looked very different 200 years ago, and who knows how it will look in another 200 years. even in this day and age it differs from country to country. we are relatively un-persecuted here in the west, most of which amounts to people thinking of christians as different or weird or even weak in some way. our actual physical life and the lives of our loved ones are not threatened with *death* because of our faith in Jesus Christ. how much would we be willing to stand firm in our faith if it were *really* put to the test? would we cave in as the disciple peter did and deny him or would we stand strong and face the consequences?

Jesus said to martha: “the one who believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. and everyone who lives believing in me does not ultimately die at all. do you believe this?"

so?... do you?...

February 18, 2011

let's try this

hopefully making things work smoother.
facebook failed me as far as feeding my blog goes!!
sounds odd.

one train you'll want to miss! [sorry]

"oh look, an unstoppable train."
truth time... i love tony scott movies. i know i know, they are loud, shaky, bold [in colour] and i think i'm right in saying - uses pretty much every trope going when it comes to action movies.
all the way from top gun through crimson tide, days of thunder, true romance, enemy of the state, deja vu, man on fire and even pelham 123, they are all great fun and cheesier than a giant cheese thing covered in cheese!
which is why i'm a little upset by having to confess that i absolutely hated unstoppable. i think he's gone too far. with both the tropes and the cheese!
i'm not giving anything away here when i tell you how the movie begins. see it as a warning if you will.
a huuuuuge freight train, uncoupled brakes that will be "connected when we've moved her to the other track!" [1st doh!]. a chubby driver who has to then disembark said train in order to change the track direction, obviously he doesn't make it [2nd doh!]. the jerking of the train causes the throttle lever to move into full steam ahead [3rd doh!]. a train full of school children coming straight at it on the same track [4th doh!]. denzel is a train driver a few days from retirement [5th doh!] and then there's the cocky rookie who comes good [6th doh!] and so on and so on ad nauseum.
it really doesn't get better. for instance half the movie is showing the story on foxnews, interviewing bystranders who are basically telling us what we are already watching on screen. *yawn*
i'm even bored of writing a review of it...
an unstoppable train that needs to be stopped but can't because it's unstoppable... until someone stops it!!
nuff said!