Tag Archives: drama

Disclaimer

This blog, article, whatever you call it has been on the back of my mind longer than any other I’ve written. A blog about how in modern society we have to give a god damn disclaimer before doing or saying anything. Most people will probably read this article and doze off three lines in so how do you start such a blog without first giving a disclaimer? Seems almost ironic that I would need a disclaimer to write a blog throwing jabs at disclaimers.

Basically, the gist of my angst here is that you can’t just be honest any more. You can’t just say what you think any more. You can’t just say the obvious any more. No matter how blatantly fucking obvious, or benign, or trivial something is these days, we all have to give disclaimers beforehand for fear of being shamed out of town, because we’ve fostered this atmosphere of wussiness.

I mean ordinarily, I would have been inclined to say at the beginning of this blog “Warning, this blog is about to use foul language. For those of you with children eyes, turn on the Disney Channel instead”.

People have to give disclaimers for practically everything they do. Here are some common examples you’re exposed to every day, whether at work, at home, during the holidays, or out in public.

  • What you say: “I can see your point of view, however it’s my opinion that…”
  • What you mean: “I heard you. I’m about to talk, please don’t hate me.”

 

  • What you say: “Before I begin, I want to clarify that I didn’t vote for Bush…”
  • What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not Republican.”

 

  • What you say: “….oh and by the way, I’m Mexican.”
  • What you mean: “Don’t hate me, I’m not racist.”

 

  • What you say: “No offense, but…”
  • What you mean: “You won’t like what I’m about to say, please don’t hate me.”

 

  • What you say: “Excuse me, can you please lower your voice. I can’t hear the movie.”
  • What you mean: “I paid $12 for this ticket! Shut the fuck up before I shove my foot up your ass!”

 

 

You might argue these are niceties. But I think it’s really just pussy footing. Sometimes I wanna just blurt out “Offense intended. That’s a stupid idea.” There’s being flat out rude, and then there’s being flat out ridiculous, and I feel like the pendulum has swung very far in that direction. Even when something isn’t rude we’re afraid of coming off as rude because as a society we’ve slowly but surely been getting thinner skinned. So many people have such delicate sensibilities, and it seems like every issue is a hot topic of controversy for someone.

I’ve been told not to talk about politics even when I am with like-minded people in public, because some random person I’ll never see again might overhear and get offended. Gasp!

But exactly that’s the root of it. People being offended. Us being offended. Have we all always been so easily offended? Did we always use to cower when something of controversy was said amidst a mixed crowd at a dinner party? Do we dare not raise out glass in agreement with the stranger across the room for fear of earning some random bloke’s enmity? What happened?

Whatever fucking happened to straight shooters? Whatever happened to people who know what they want and say it. They just fucking say it for the sake of saying it? Whatever happened to Eminem? Clint Eastwood, Winston Churchill and George W. Bush? What happened to not giving a fuck?

To quote the great Marshall Mathers, “Whatever happened to wildin out and being violent? Whatever happened to catchin a good old-fashioned passionate ass whoopin’ and getting your shoes, coat, and your hat tooken

We give disclaimers for almost everything. It’s expected that you do, and rude if you don’t. If you just go off and say what you want to say, without first lubing up the sensibilities of the people around you, you’re bound to create some friction, and some enemies.

Because of this, a void in communication has been created. There are certain opinions, certain ideas, certain offensive truths that dare not be spoken for fear of offending someone and permanently landing yourself on their shit list. No more getting invited to couples charades. What has filled this void, is lies, false pleasantries, groupthink, blind obedience to, and agreement with those whose sensibilities might be offended. We’ve catered our thoughts and speech to the lowest common denominator of the emotionally volatile.

Starbucks caught a lot of flak for starting up a dialogue about race. That’s all, let’s just talk about race. Howard Schultz never told his employees to don a white hood and start setting crosses on fire, but that’s how people reacted to it.

When you baby a kid, he turns into a baby. So let’s stop treating everyone like babies. Let’s toughen up. Let’s be bold and speak what’s on our minds. I’m not saying go out and be rude, but let’s stop acting like the simple act of disagreeing is rude. Let’s stop acting like being individuals, and thus have individual thought, is an offence. Am I asking you to stop using disclaimers? Well…

Advertisements

Focus Movie Review

On Monday evening I had the pleasure of attending a pre-screening of Focus, the new Will Smith movie entering theaters today, February 27. Thank you to Brett and Adriana for gifting us your tickets, we had a blast!

I’ve been a longtime fan of Will Smith, after all, the guy has saved the world six times by my count. But some of his recent movies have been incredibly underwhelming, to downright horrible.

Take for example the 2013 film After Earth, where Will and his son Jayden spoke with some amalgamation of random accents from around the world, botched to the point that no one in the audience actually knew what their characters said in the entire movie.

1108146 - After Earth

His cameo in Anchorman 2 was…. well…. the second Anchorman. And Winter’s Tale, wait, what movie?

Truth be told Will Smith hasn’t made a good movie since 2008’s Hancock, so I was very curious, and anxious to see Focus, a movie which has enjoyed practically no advertising campaign.

And the verdict? Not only was Focus not crappy, it wasn’t even mediocre. It wasn’t even enjoyable. It was damn good. In my opinion, Focus has officially resuscitated Will Smith’s acting career, and proved to audiences that he still has it. It? It. That it, that thing, that one of a kind je ne sais quoi that we have all grown to love about Will Smith. That charismatic, smooth talking, sharp thinking, always charming Will Smith that can steal the show without ever picking up a gun, or even cursing for that matter.

Okay Andrew, we got it. You liked the movie. Now what the heck is this movie even about?

will-smith-focus-thatgrapejuice-600x337

What? The name Focus isn’t obvious enough to you? Just kidding! The title has practically nothing to do with the movie aside from one line in the movie with no relevance. But it’s quick and catchy. “Hey, you guys wanna see the movie Focus this weekend?” See, catchy.

Don’t worry, no spoiler alerts. If I had to sum it up, Focus was a combination of Hitch, Italian Job, and Ocean’s Eleven, and naturally Smith’s character is a mashup of Hitch, and Mark Whalberg and George Clooney’s characters in those respective flicks.

Gettin' jiggy with it.
Gettin’ jiggy with it.

Smith plays Nicky, a professional con artist and thief. But don’t worry, he’s super lovable and you’d be honored to be pick pocketed by him at the Del Mar Fair. Focus is one of those root-for-the-criminal movies, but don’t worry, there’s an actual villain so it’s excusable.

Fellow actors and actresses Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro, and BD Wong have short lived but memorable roles in the movie. Unlike most movies, Focus doesn’t really focus on anything. From the onset there is no big goal, no overarching story, no antagonist that continuously drives the story forward. But in spite of all that, the movie does move forward, and quickly at that.

What movie is complete without cleavage?
What movie is complete without cleavage?

The movie begins when Smith and Robbie’s characters have a (not so) chance encounter at a bar. One thing leads to another, and someone has a gun in their face. But the mood quickly deescalates and you hit the ground running with equal doses of comedy, emotion, and drama. You’ll even be biting your nails during some scenes.

Whether you are looking for a couples’ movie, a girls night out, or a guys night out, or if you’re one of those people who go to the movies alone, this movie will not disappoint.

I highly recommend you see Focus, and bring some company because you’re going to want to talk about it on the drive home!

focus car

Was it enjoyable? Yes it was. I was laughing, I was writhing with suspense. The movie had that good old 90’s and 2000’s Will Smith fresh prince attitude to it! The acting was great, and the story was believable. I give this movie a B+.

Did it deliver what it advertised? I didn’t see too many advertisements for this movie in all honesty, but whether it did deliver nonetheless.

Would I see it again? I don’t know if I would buy it, but I would definitely Red Box it, and will make sure to watch it as soon as it becomes available on Netflix. It would make a good stocking stuffer this Christmas. You won’t hear me say this often, but I would actually be interested in a higher stakes Focus sequel, as this movie has some upwards potential.

My Take on Sons of Anarchy

I’ve been an avid fan of Sons of Anarchy since it first aired back in 2008. SOA lasted a lot longer than people expected. Series creator Kurt Sutter originally didn’t plan on the show lasting any more than 3 seasons, but with record high ratings and level of viewers, the show was stretched out to 7 seasons. I would say that with the exception of Season 3, the entire series was amazing. Here is what the show is, and meant to me. (Spoiler alerts ahead).

soa jax

Honest

Sons was dark, it was edgy, suspenseful, hilarious, bloody and violence, and at times it was even heartbreaking *cough Opie Cough*. Most importantly, it was honest and faithful. In that honesty, the show never pulled any punches. It didn’t take the easy route. It didn’t run your characters to the edge of a cliff and work up a nail biter, just to reel them back in like some bullshit CW TV show. Sons would kick him (or her) right off. Fan favorites, show veterans, women, and children. In Sons of Anarchy, nothing is sacred.

Sons of Anarchy is not dickless like Vampire Diaries

Sons of Anarchy is not dickless like Vampire Diaries

Faithful

It was faithful and ‘stuck to the script’. Kurt Sutter once had a quote on the SOA website blasting other studios for having no balls. SOA has balls. Big balls. They would go there. No other TV show would have had the balls to air anything remotely close to the Season 2 or Season 6 Premiers. It was also faithful to the viewers, and wouldn’t cut the story or viewers short, just to make filming easier. The 60 minute show would frequently air 75 or 90 minute episodes, usually 2 per season, the entire sixth season was 90 minute episodes, and the series finale crept up on two hours. Does your TV show do that?

Depth

If all you know about the show is what you’ve seen on the commercials or ads, then you haven’t the slightest idea what the show actually is. Get past the criminals, the bikes, beards, guns, skulls, and highways and show has a lot of meaning and depth to it, which I have explained below.

Religion

The show, and specifically the series finale was ripe with religious innuendo. The bread and the wine left by the homeless woman was obviously a reference to Jesus, and the sacrifice he made. Whereas Jesus sacrificed himself to cleanse the sins of his fellow man, Jax in his final days did the dirty work necessary to prevent his brothers from having to commit to sin at all. They get to live free of punishment, because of Jax’s actions. The way Jax died, arms spread out, also ringed of Jesus Christ. Heck, even Jax and Jesus both start with J, as did both of their father’s, John and Joseph. But that could be stretching.

Take this wine, this is my blood, which shall be given up for you.
Take this wine, this is my blood, which shall be given up for you.

Harbinger

After years of fans wondering “what’s the deal with that homeless lady?” Jax finally asked the question outright in the series finale.

Was she Death? Was she God? Time? I think she was Fate, but more importantly, she was a harbinger, or omen. She presented herself to numerous characters over the course of the show, but usually to Jax and Gemma. The common thread here is she always appeared just before a wave of change, such as before Jax’s mission to lead the club away from crime, or before his final rampage.

Harbinger of doom
Harbinger of doom

Death

The last thing the homeless women gave to Jax in their final encounter was her blanket, as if to give him comfort or solace. She knew what he was going to do, and that gesture reassured him of his path. Not only that, the blanket itself was instrumental in the execution (no pun intended) of his plan, before offing August Marks.

Most importantly, when Jax wore the blanket, he looked like the Grim Reaper – Death – which the show alluded to all the time. That was actually some scary shit.

Jax as the Grim Reaper in Series Finale
Jax as the Grim Reaper in Series Finale

Family

The show is all about family, and what you would do to protect them. I think this show’s answer to that question is “anything”. And what happens when one of your loved ones hurts another. The problem is that one man’s path to protect his family might cross paths with another, and when that happens, we witness anarchy.

This was no more evidenced than by Gemma’s longstanding and heated relationship with Tara, and their tug of war of influence over Jax and the kids.

soa family

Martyrdom

Martyrdom and self-sacrifice was as big a theme as any in this show. Jax and Juice selling their souls to protect the club. Tig sacrificing himself to avenge and protect his daughters. Gemma hiding her rape to keep up the morale of her family and the club. Tara sacrificing a promising career and future to love a criminal and raise his son from another woman.

But then there is the sacrifice. You know what I’m talking about. The moment that stands out tallest among them all: When Opie sacrificed himself to the prison guards to save his brothers. Without even any context, this scene was the most heart wrenching of the entire show. But why? Because Opie had already lost so much to the club. Of all the club members, he had spent the most time in prison because a fellow member betrayed him. Then Opie was set up to look like a rat, and in a case of mistaken identity his wife was viciously murdered at the hands of the club. Then, in an effort to cover it up, Opie’s father was also killed by the club president. It seems so unfair, because Opie had given so much already. But Opie also had nothing else to lose. The club was all he had, so for him self-sacrifice was the only move he had.

Opie made the ultimate sacrifice.
Opie made the ultimate sacrifice.

For those who are well read, Opie and this scene reminded me of the Boxer the horse, and what befell him, in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”.

Anarchy

You’d think the Sons – given their name – would be all about anarchy, but they aren’t. The Sons actually have a very organized system set up for how they handle their affairs, and deal with members and insubordination.

Despite this, the Sons do land themselves in a handful of shitty situations that at times seem very chaotic. Chaos is the protagonist of the entire series. It is amazing how one misstep, one lie, one deception, one bullet, can result in such a devastating and endless series of events.

Yeah, Sons of Anarchy sounds cool. But I think the point of the club’s name is not so much to literally mean “children of chaos”, but more likely, that we are all the byproduct of chaotic situations. Jax Teller is the show’s biggest testimony to that, and despite his actions or best intentions, he couldn’t change himself or his club. As my friend Brett tells me, a rock cannot change the river.

David vs. Goliath

This ties back into the religious innuendo, but the underdog narrative also makes for good story telling in general.

In season one, the sons are a big fish in a small pond, operating unopposed in their small, fictional town of Charming, California. They are in the minor leagues, and their protagonists are a rival small time motorcycle club, a street gang in Oakland, and some skinheads. As the show moves on, the threats escalate, and the enemies the Sons encounter get bigger and badder.

The Sons graduate, and clash with skinheads, rival MCs, the Aryan Brotherhood, the ATF, the IRA, the Russian mobs, the Chinese mafia, crooked cops, sadistic US Marshalls, Mexican drug cartels, and even the CIA.

The World Keeps Spinning

With a lot of cunning, the Sons (usually) ended up on top, by the skin of their teeth.

I think the message of the show is to keep on keeping on. No matter what adversity you face. The problems, the troubles, the confusion. Do the best you can with what you have, work hard and push through to make the best life you can for yourself, your family, and your children.

We’ll always be remembered, but the world keeps spinning long after we’re gone.

soa world keep spinning