Friday, May 13, 2011

"How do we inspire ourselves to greatness when nothing less will do?"


By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

On Tuesday night I watched Invictus for the first time. Something tells me it won’t be the last time.

Invictus is about Nelson Mandela and rugby. Ok, maybe it’s a little more in-depth than that, but I’m not sure I’m qualified to put into words exactly what is at the heart of this film; only that it has tremendous heart and rings all the more true given that it is based on real events.

Lately I’ve been challenging myself to look beyond the mere quality of a film and instead try to find those truths that God speaks through the film. I’ve always believed that God’s truth exists everywhere; we just have to look for it. This can be said of all man’s accomplishments (and failures) but seems to be most prevalent in the arts: music, film, paintings, sculptures and poetry, to name a few. I think this is because of the creative nature of the arts. If God is the God of all creation, then it shouldn’t surprise us when His truths are revealed in our own creations.

"Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon."
Having said all that, I’m not sure I can pin down the truths revealed in Invictus or do it justice with my simple words. But I’ll do my best.

At one point in the film, Matt Damon’s character, Francois Pienaar, is touring the prison cell where Nelson Mandela (portrayed perfectly by Morgan Freeman) was held for 25 years. As he tries to put himself in Mandela’s shoes we hear Freeman’s voice recite the poem ‘Invictus’. This is a poem, and similarly a film, about soul. And not just any soul, but an unconquerable soul.

"I was thinking about how you spend 30 years in a tiny cell, and come out ready to forgive the people who put you there."
Two of God’s greatest gifts to us are our soul and the freedom to choose what we do with it; the freedom to choose our own path. He offers guidance, help, forgiveness, even eternal life, but ultimately we are the masters of our own fate; we are the captains of our souls. I think it is the combination of our ability to direct our own destiny and God’s willingness to help guide us, should we choose to allow Him to do so, that makes the soul of man unconquerable.

The poem speaks this truth much more eloquently that I am able to convey here. In the film it is demonstrated through Mandela’s attempts to forgive his accusers and bring together a divided nation. It is demonstrated through Francois’ determination to exceed everyone’s expectations and achieve something great. Despite being “simply” about Nelson Mandela and rugby, Invictus manages to reveal God’s truth. That with His help, in the face of grief, sorrow, pain and struggling, the challenge of life finds, and shall find, us unafraid.

Friday, May 06, 2011

3 Movie Challenge

A great, new friend recently posted on his blog a series of questions from a friend of his. The idea is to pick your top 3 favourite films and then answer a couple of thought-provoking questions about those picks. (You can check out the original post here.)

The movie-obsessed-geek in me was instantly intrigued and excited about taking on this 3-movie challenge. And what a challenge it has been. If you know me at all, or have seen my movie collection, then you have an idea of how monumentally difficult this was for me. Pick only 3?!? Impossible.

On my first attempt I was able to narrow it down to my top 48 favourite movies. Not a promising start. After agonising over it for many days (seriously, ask my wife) I think I have finally decided on my top 3. Though I still think picking only 3 favourite movies is, for me, like picking the 3 most important parts of the space shuttle; they’re all pretty important.

Ultimately I had to narrow the field down by asking myself which films I would miss the most if I could never watch them again. That, for me, helped define which were my favourites as opposed to those which I thought were just really good movies.

At any rate, here are the questions and my answers:

What are your three favourite movies?

In no particular order, here are the 3 I managed to come up with:

1) The Count of Monte Cristo
2) The Shawshank Redemption
3) The Empire Strikes Back

What is the common thematic thread running through each of these choices?

Answering this question wasn’t much easier than the first, though I did have some awesome help from Shauna. More on that in a moment. I was first struck by the fact that my first two picks involve wrongful imprisonment. The third does too if you count Han Solo being encased in carbonite and shipped off to Jabba’s palace. Though technically Han was smuggling illegal goods and did have to dump Jabba’s cargo when an Imperial cruiser came snooping. So in a way his imprisonment wasn’t completely wrongful. I’m sure Leia and Chewie would argue with that logic.

But I digress. (Sorry, my geek is showing.)

Anyway, wrongful imprisonment aside, I tried to think of any other common themes running through each of these films. This is where Shauna’s insight really helped. Her first impression was that each main character (Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo and Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back) went through a period of learning and tutelage under a mentor. Andy learns from Red how to exist within the prison system. Edmond learns a number of disciplines, including reading, writing, economics and fencing, from Abbe Faria. And, as we all know, Luke learns the ways of the Jedi from Master Yoda. I disagreed only slightly in that Andy seems to already have a wealth of knowledge and he seems to be the one who ends up teaching the other inmates lessons in art, music, taxes, persistence and most importantly, hope.

Finally, Shauna came to the conclusion that the common theme in all three films is that of self-discovery. Each main character goes through a trial or series of trials that teaches them who they really are. They each find a purpose for their lives, either as a result of their situations or as a result of their decisions, good or bad. It is actually Red who discovers that hope is what drives him and ultimately finds his own destiny with Andy outside the walls of Shawshank. Edmond confronts his oppressors and while driven by revenge he ultimately learns that God’s grace is the only thing that can bring true peace to his life. And Luke chooses to abandon his training and confront Darth Vader, which ultimately starts him down the path to discovering his true identity and destiny.

Shauna also alluded to another common thread that ties in with the theme of self-discovery. Each character has their lives and relationships completely torn apart and they find themselves thrown into a new world. Andy and Red are both cut off from family and the world inside the walls of Shawshank Prison. Edmond is similarly thrown in prison, separated from his fiancée and father. And in Empire we find Luke already trying to come to terms with the loss of Obi-Wan Kenobi (not to mention his Aunt and Uncle) and his new role in the Rebellion as a Jedi.

Each finds themselves separated, in some way, from the life they knew. Each must endure the tests, challenges and confrontations that their new lives bring about. And ultimately each learns their true destiny and true identity.

What does this say about you?

I identify with film characters who are struggling to find their place and discover who they really are. No, I have never been in prison. No, I have never found a secret treasure which I then used to exact revenge on my numerous enemies. And no, sadly, I have never been summoned to Dagobah to learn the ways of the Force (I wish!).

I think I can identify with these characters because I have spent a great deal of my own life struggling to discover who I am and what my place is in this world. Specifically as a man, husband and one day, father. I did not have many positive male role models when I was growing up. I have had to discover what it means to be a good husband on my own; gathering small bits of insight from men outside my family. And some day I will have to discover what it means to be a father on my own, again drawing only from the observations I can make from other people’s fathers. For better or worse, these struggles and losses in my life have ultimately defined a large part of who I am.

When I think of the main themes of each of these movies, I cannot help but smile and look to my heavenly Father, who has shown His truth through these characters. Andy reminds us that “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” Edmond learns to put aside his revenge, finds peace with himself and God, and discovers that even when he no longer believed in God, God still believes in him. And Luke discovers that no matter how terrible the past might be, no matter how grim the current situation appears, there is always a chance for redemption and reconciliation, and for good to triumph over evil.

Amen to that.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Is "tired old cliche" one?

I mentioned the other day that I’m in possession of a large number of borrowed Blu-rays, provided to me by a movie-obsessed co-worker. You think my collection is large? We once estimated that he must have over 2,500 DVDs! He doesn’t rent movies. He doesn’t go to the theatre. He buys everything he watches. And he watches a LOT. It’s great to have access to such a bountiful supply of movies, but that supply covers a very bizarre and interesting spectrum. I don’t recognize half of the movies he lends me. Which sometimes makes for some pleasant surprises. Sometimes.

On Monday night I browsed through the stack of movies currently on-loan and decided to pop Skyline into the PS3. I knew it was an alien flick. Someone once described it as a cross between Cloverfield and War of the Worlds. Cloverfield is a clever, unique film (if somewhat dizzying) and War of the Worlds is a great blockbuster with equal parts action and suspense. Both films have earned a spot in my collection. So with that in mind Skyline should have been fantastic. It should have been engaging, thrilling and intelligent.

As my wife would say, “Don’t should all over yourself.”

While Skyline had terrific special effects and a couple of exciting moments, it was, for the most part, a heaping pile of cliché. Most films include at least one or two typical clichés. You know, one of the main characters decides to wander off in search of someone or something, by themselves, while the monster/alien/texas-chainsaw-wielding-madman is still out there on the loose. Or the group of terrified teenagers decides to slowly walk backwards out of a room, their backs to the camera, not taking a single glance behind them to make sure they’re not walking into certain death.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that cliché in film is always bad. Letting that bomb tick away until the last second before the hero finally defuses it can create effective tension if done right. But when film cliché goes bad, it goes really bad. Skyline is a great example. Or a horrible example. Depends which way you want to look at it. If you want my opinion, I suggest you don’t look at it at all. The movie, that is.

The film's tag-line is "Don't Look Up".
I say "Don't Look. At this movie. At all".

I first knew things were going horribly wrong when the main character committed a particularly annoying cliché. He had been injured in some fashion. I won’t spoil how, except to say that he was psychically “burned” by the invading aliens which left his skin marked with black lines where his blood vessels were, causing him extreme pain and giving him a slight, mental insight into the mind of the alien invaders. Oops. Did I give too much away? Oh well, I guess you don’t have to watch the movie now. You can thank me later.

At any rate, when asked by a fellow survivor if he was ok, he instantly covered himself up and said “Yes, I’m fine.” This happens a LOT in film. Someone gets hurt and decides the best course of action is to hide that injury from everyone and pretend that it will just go away on its own. I guess some directors feel that this builds tension for the audience. “Ooh, I wonder what will happen with that mysterious injury?” It doesn’t. It just frustrates us and reeks of arrogance and ignorance. Not great qualities in a hero. And the person asking him if he was ok wasn’t just some random character. It was his pregnant girlfriend! Probably the closest person he knew or had a relationship with. That just made the cover up all the more frustrating.

Aliens attack L.A. 'Nuff said?

I’m not sure why I focused on that moment, but there it is. The movie really went down hill from there, although there were some cool battle scenes. But that’s just visual candy. There was no substance and the terrible clichés just reinforced the thought that these characters weren’t worth caring about.

Give Skyline a miss. Instead, watch a movie that uses some of those clichés in a much more satisfying and subtle manner. The Hurt Locker immediately comes to mind and is far more worthy of your time.

Having said all that, what are some your most annoying and frustrating clichés in film? Post a comment and let me know.

Monday, April 18, 2011

“I'm the one who's fighting. Not you, not you, and not you.”

Shauna and I spent the weekend up in ‘The Park’ with some great friends (shout out to Steve, Sue, Brian, Chrissy, Meghan, Ian, Abby, Zach, Allie and Sydney), hanging out, eating giant, awesome meals, playing with the kids and generally being silly. It was a wonderful visit and I’m pleased to say that Shauna now holds the Gold Medal for best charade. Ever. Please, please, please ask her to show it to you sometime. If she doesn’t agree, I’m happy to reveal that there is video proof.

At any rate, once we got home we both immediately realized that we were in severe movie withdrawal. Ok maybe I was the one in withdrawal but Shauna has always been my biggest enabler, so we both agreed to watch something together.

We decided on ‘The Fighter’ for no other reason than it was on the top of the pile of Blu-rays that I’ve borrowed from a co-worker. He’s loaned me about 20 movies at the moment. I have this strange need to watch them all before I start catching up on the movies in my own collection that I still need to watch. It’s the only part of my movie obsession that sometimes feels like a chore. I seriously have issues. But today’s blog isn’t about my issues.

It’s about Christian Bale’s.

Or rather, it’s about Dicky Eklund’s issues, the real-life character portrayed by Bale in the critically acclaimed ‘The Fighter’.

For those of you who don’t follow Oscar buzz and don’t get obsessed with Best Picture nominations or Best Actor awards, or have been living in the Arctic Circle for the past year, The Fighter is the true story of two brothers, their relationship with each other and their own personal struggles with family, crack and boxing. Not necessarily in that order. Mark Wahlberg plays Micky Ward, half brother to Dick Eklund (Bale), a once renowned boxer who went toe-to-toe with Sugar Ray Leonard and came out on top. At least, temporarily. Micky is now training to take his own shot at a boxing career, under Dickey’s tutelage (don’t let the names turn you off). I don’t want to spoil any part of the movie for you, but I don’t think it’s any surprise that Dickey’s crack addiction doesn’t help things.

Christian Bale is a genius. This is an actor who does his homework and completely embodies the role he’s been given, both physically and emotionally. The Fighter is another link in an already impressive chain of physically demanding films for Bale. Just take note of his body weight changes through The Machinist (121 lbs.), Batman Begins (190 lbs.), Rescue Dawn (135 lbs.), The Dark Knight (back up to 195lbs.) and The Fighter (down again to approximately 150 lbs.). And since The Dark Knight Returns is currently in pre-production it’s safe to assume that Bale is already putting the muscle back on.

Weight loss aside, Bale still delivers an incredible performance, one more than worthy of the Academy Award he earned earlier this year. His speech, mannerisms and facial ticks are a sobering and accurate depiction of the effects of crack cocaine. And yet Bale also manages to convincingly display the skill and knowledge of a former, professional, Welterweight boxer. From each nervous laugh to every paranoid flinch, Bale is Dick Eklund, head to toe.

Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams and Melissa Leo also deliver note-worthy performances, but quite honestly, they pale in comparison to Christian Bale’s incredible display of acting ability. I was surprised to learn that his Oscar was in the Supporting Actor category. He deserves a Leading Role nod for this performance and although I’m glad he won, I still think he was robbed. Just compare Bruce Wayne to Dick Eklund. It’s mind-boggling that these two roles were even possible for a single actor to nail so perfectly.

Putting my apparent man-crush on Christian Bale aside, The Fighter is still a fantastic film. The boxing scenes are realistic and captivating. The characters are believable and easy to invest in (which one would hope given that they’re all based on real people and in at least one case performed by the actual person). This movie is worth your time. It will find a permanent place in my collection. Assuming I can find a place for my collection. I have officially run out of shelf space. Time for a new house I guess.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching Up, Part 4

Four in a row! After over two years of gathering dust on the virtual shelf my blog seems to be alive once again. It feels great to be writing again and I'm excited about sharing my thoughts, opinions and unparalleled knowledge of all things "movie" with the world. I know you all missed me.

Here is the fourth and final part in my Catching Up series. Enjoy!


I’ve been trying more in recent years to catch up on all the “classic” films from long before I was old enough (or even alive) to appreciate good filmmaking. I had a number of films from this category that I considered including in this catch-up list (Citizen Kane, To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, to name a few) but in the end it seemed appropriate to include, arguably, the most well-known classic of them all, Casablanca. I’m always interested to see if these older movies have stood the test of time. Are their characters, plots and writing still relevant? Can it still capture the attention of a 30-something guy who enjoys a good mainstream, apocalyptic film with (or without) killer robots? Well in the case of Casablanca I’m happy to announce that it does indeed pass that test. At least for me. The writing is just brilliant, but that’s no surprise for a movie that has no less than six of its quotes on the A.F.I. Top 100 Movie Quotes of All Time. The story is tried and true and Bogart is at his best. This film personifies the highest echelon of filmmaking. I’m glad I finally saw it and I’m glad it matches the hype. That’s impressive for a film that’s almost 70 years old.


Another in my series of movies-I-need-to-watch, though I include it for almost the opposite reason as Casablanca. Now I might be stirring up some dissention by saying this (Michael H., I apologize) but I was totally underwhelmed by this Hitchcock “classic”. I really tried to give it a fair shake, but the film bored me for the most part, confused me in some other parts, and just generally left me thinking “Really?” In this writer’s opinion, this film has not stood the test of time. The writing and acting just don’t measure up and the convoluted plot just doesn’t fit. Again, that’s one man’s opinion and I know I’m probably in the minority. But there it is. It just left me dizzy. (I agonized about including that pun, but felt it had to be done.)

True Grit (1969)

The Coen Brothers make some great films. I’m a big fan of Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, O Brother Where Art Thou? and No Country For Old Men. The scripts are superb, the acting is top-notch and the films themselves are a pleasant break from typical Hollywood fare. When I heard that they were going to remake True Grit I knew I had better watch the original first. I’ve said before that I’m a fan of westerns, but I had never seen the 1969 John Wayne classic that earned him is first (and only) Academy Award. So I wrangled up a copy (see what I did there?) and popped it into Ye Olde Blu-Ray player (that’s a bit of an oxymoron I think). This is a great western. The dynamics between Cogburn, La Boeuf and Mattie Ross are very engaging and entertaining. And my hat goes off to Kim Darby who gives an incredible performance as young Ross. I was surprised by how well this film has held up over the years. Now I can’t wait to see the Coen Brothers’ version. Has anyone seen both? Thoughts?

The Social Network

If there’s one thing that has changed significantly in the last two years, it has to be the emergence of social networking. Facebook. It has changed the way an entire generation interacts with one another. The story behind the creation of this worldwide trend is incredible and, I think, important. Going into this film I was most interested in learning about the birth of Facebook and the people involved (that is, their involvement, not their births). What I didn’t expect was to discover one of the most well-crafted films I’ve seen in a long time. Regardless of your interest in the Facebook phenomenon, The Social Network is a brilliantly made film. From the score and cinematography to the writing and acting, this film earns high marks across the board. It’s even a technological marvel in some areas (did you know that the Winklevoss twins were portayed by a single actor?). There’s a lot more going on here than just the creation of Facebook. This is a story about character, ideas, ownership, relationships and vision. And a very well told story at that. Highly recommended.

TRON Legacy

TRON Legacy makes the list because it is the most recent “blockbuster” I’ve seen. Just last week Shauna and I sat down and had ourselves a TRON double-feature, watching the original classic and the updated ‘Legacy’ back to back. If you’re a fan of the 1982 original, which was groundbreaking with its digital effects and computerized scenery, then you’ll love Legacy which takes a good thing and builds on it. The special effects are dazzling, especially during the “games”. The light-cycle race alone is worth the price of admission. But beyond great visuals, the film also surprises with an intelligent plot and a clever villain. This is a fun visit back to “the grid” and a well made film that rightfully earns a spot in my collection.

"It feels good to be back on the grid."

It's been fun going back over some of the more memorable films I've watched during my 2-year break from the blog. I would love to hear your comments on these films, as well as some your most memorable movies from recent years. Which stand out in your mind as the most impressive? The most disappointing? The most bizarre? Let me know. I'd love to hear from all my readers. Both of you.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Catching Up, Part 3

Three days in a row! This is promising. I've been very excited this week knowing that I finally got my rear in gear and gave this whole thing another try. I'm optimistic that I can keep it going.

I just realized that you can play the "in bed" game with every sentence in that first paragraph.

My beautiful and movie-adoring wife, Shauna, made a great comment to me about my first part of the Catching Up series. She commented on how my blog-talk varies between two distinct styles. The "Tom" style, where I pretty much just say what I'm thinking and write more naturally, and the "review" style where I tend to use a lot of review-talk and cliche descriptions of movies. I had never really noticed it before but after re-reading a few of my own posts, I realized that she's absolutely right.

She challenged me to focus more on my own style and not worry so much about providing a run-of-the-mill review. After thinking about this for a few days I've decided to take her up on that challenge. I enjoy my writing a lot more when I'm just being me. That probably means that my "reviews" will provide less factual information about the quality of a film and will likely focus more on my own thoughts, observations and tangents.

"Time for a switch."

However, since I actually pre-wrote all my "mini-reviews" for the 20 films in my Catching Up series, you won't see the full switch happening today. Or tomorrow. But after that I promise! No really!

Anyway, on with Part 3...


I can’t really talk about movies from the last couple years without talking about Avatar, can I? Whether you liked it, loved it, hated it or missed it completely, the facts don’t lie; Avatar is now the single-most successful film of all time. Surpassing even Titanic and Return of the King, it managed to gross more than $2.7 billion worldwide. It also revolutionized 3D film technology and (perhaps unfortunately) started a Hollywood obsession with all things 3D. I have a standing rule about seeing films in the theatre, which I’m sure I’ve ranted about before. But I broke the rule for Avatar since I had a feeling it was going to be something new that had to be experienced on the big screen. I think I was right. Plot, characters and writing aside, the visual experience of Avatar was breathtaking, especially in 3D on the IMAX screen. 3D films up to that point were all about making things jump out of the screen into the audience’s lap. Avatar did the opposite, grabbing the audience and pulling them into the world of Pandora. It was a unique experience, one that I’m not convinced has been, or will be, repeated. Personally, I did enjoy the story and the action and the Blu-Ray is probably the best looking home-theatre candy I have in my collection. This film looks gorgeous! Love it or hate it, Avatar deserves some applause.


This film makes the list for one reason. It was the single worst film I have seen in a long, long time. Certainly the worst I have seen in the last two years. Don’t waste your time on it. I’m not going to waste any more of mine writing about it. Blech!


I love most movie genres, giving equal consideration to blockbusters, indies, documentaries and yes, even the occasional rom-com. Horror films do nothing for me, however and they are appropriately under-represented in my movie collection. Westerns, on the other hand, are movies that I have come to appreciate more and more in recent years. Appaloosa is based on the book written by Robert B. Parker and tells the story of two long-time friends and partners who attempt to bring their form of law to the terrorized town of Appaloosa. This is definitely another character film with some great dialogue and a unique friendship at its centre. The gunfights, showdowns and Indian attacks are still here and they work together with a well-told story to result in a finely crafted film. Worth a look.

The Book of Eli

Apparently ‘The Book of Eli’ is also based on a graphic novel, but I don’t feel it quite has the same feel as a film like 300 or Watchmen. It feels much more like a mainstream, apocalyptic film. Which is good if you enjoy mainstream, apocalyptic films. The film is centered around Eli who is on a quest to bring a very important book to a safe place “somewhere” in the west. Or is it east? I honestly can’t remember, but like most things in life it’s the journey, not the destination, that is most important. Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman show their acting and action chops in this bleak, yet hopeful view of the future. And there’s a bit of a twist ending that turns the film into a completely different movie on subsequent viewings. I was pleasantly surprised at the film’s message; not what one expects from a mainstream, apocalyptic movie. There wasn’t a single killer robot.

Shutter Island

Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio are at it again in this adapted screenplay about a U.S. Marshal who is sent to a hospital for the criminally insane, on Shutter Island, to investigate a mysterious disappearance. And as you would expect, things are not what they seem. In fact, the whole genre of this movie is not what you would expect. I don’t want to give anything away, but all I’ll say is that I’ve mentioned before my dislike for horror/thriller films and I found Shutter Island very intelligent and entertaining. And like The Book of Eli, the twist ending will make you want to watch it again as everything will have changed. Great script, superb acting and a cleverly told story make for a highly satisfying film.

I'll wrap up my Catching Up series tomorrow with Part 4. Stay with me!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Catching Up, Part 2

As promised, here is Part 2 in my 'Catching Up' series where I try to revitalize my blog and revisit some of the more memorable films I've watched in the last two years.

So let's get to it...


Graphic novels have certainly become more prevalent in recent years, particularly with the success of films like Sin City and 300. While I certainly enjoyed a comic book or two in my youth, I was never a hard-core fan and I had never heard of Sin City, 300 or Watchmen prior to their debut on the big screen. But I certainly enjoyed them all and could really appreciate the comic-book style of filmmaking. Watchmen grabbed my attention all the more when I discovered that Time magazine had listed Watchmen as one of their Top 100 Best Novels of all time. Did you get that? Best novels. Not best comic books or best graphic novels. Watchmen is right up there with Animal Farm, The Catcher in the Rye and The Grapes of Wrath. While the film itself certainly won’t be everyone’s cup of tea (parents: this is not one for the kids), the filmmaking is very impressive and the story is quite layered. It’s both a visual feast and an intellectual journey. Go in with an open mind and you might be surprised.


If you are a musician, or you live with a musician, or you know a musician, then go watch this movie now. Preferably with said musician. This surprising little film, set in Dublin, Ireland, is a music-filled tale of a busker and a woman and the songs they write, sing and record. It certainly goes way beyond that meagre description but the telling of the story is beautiful and the songs are brilliant. Particularly ‘Falling Slowly’ which won Best Original Song at the Oscars in 2008. Worth seeing. And hearing. Check it out.

Terminator Salvation

Another “reboot” (they seem awfully popular these days) of the Terminator series made popular by the Governator. Set in the future, but not as far in the future as the future scenes from Terminator and Terminator 2, Salvation continues the saga of John Connor as he struggles to save the future from…er…the future. Yeah, these time travel movies can get confusing sometimes. Suffice it to say that Salvation carries on with the big explosions, killer robots and impeding Armageddon. Good stuff. Seriously though, I did enjoy this installment in the Terminator series and especially liked the way they handled the time-line of John Connor and his father-to-be, Kyle Reese. There are some great nods to the first couple films as well, for all you Terminator fans out there. And honestly, who of us are not Terminator fans? They’re unstoppable, killer robots. What’s not to like, right?

Inglourious Basterds

Those of you who know me, know that I’m a huge Tarantino fan. His films are some of the most unique and well-scripted movies I’ve seen. And while they’re certainly not the most G-rated films on the planet, they offer very unique characters in very interesting situations. It all comes down to the dialogue. Quentin loves to put these strange characters on screen with each other and then just let them hash it out for a while. At the same time he manages to weave an impressive plot web through quick-cuts, long-takes, flash-backs, flash-forwards and all manner of quirky editing styles. And it works. At least, it works for me. Inglourious Basterds is technically another “reboot” though it greatly improves on the original (in my humble opinion) and is similar in name only. Brad Pitt does an amazing job (as always) but even he is overshadowed by the brilliant and creepily entertaining Cristoph Waltz, who went on to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. If you enjoy Tarantino, you’ll love Inglourious Basterds. Fair warning though, this film is certainly not for everyone.

Confessions of a Superhero

Another in the documentary category, though I can’t remember how I discovered it. This brilliant study exams the lives of four “actors” who dress up as superheroes and earn a living by having their photos taken with tourists outside Mann’s Chinese Theater in Hollywood. Their sole source of income is the tips they collect and each has their own unique view on how those tips should work. Technically speaking they’re all buskers, basically trying to make ends meet by pan-handling. But after watching this documentary you might feel differently. You’ll certainly be amazed at the types of personalities displayed and the quirky lifestyles of these so-called superheroes. If you like documentaries at all, you’ll find this one an entertaining and eye-opening delight.