Once You Go Black

Once You Go Black

I love movies. I specifically love Marvel movies and seeing what the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become. As a writer, I geek out at the breadth and scope of the MCU, as well as the challenges that come with trying to maintain continuity from movie to movie. The MCU started with the first Iron Man movie in 2008, and I can only assume the writers involved did not foresee the explosive success Marvel would have in cinema over the next ten years.

I also did not read many comic books as a kid. For me, the MCU ties back to warm memories of my childhood (given I would watch Spidey and Friends on Saturday mornings) but also allows me to discover these characters and storylines through the eyes of an adult.

Watching Black Panther tonight, I left the theater with an enthusiastic sense of “well done.” Without regurgitating much of what’s already been written about the movie, I have to applaud the creative team of the film for producing an entertaining story that is also timely and poignant. I think there is truth in the critical feedback of this movie as being groundbreaking, and I will borrow from my friend Enaye, an educator and African-American woman when she says:

“Seeing a major mainstream movie with a predominately black cast that was not the stereotypical story of slavery and/or struggle for freedom, or Tyler Perry style comedy (no offense to Perry) was refreshing. Seeing fierce black women warriors with depth of character and not hyper-sexualized was amazing!” 

I really can’t state it better than she did, and I, too, noticed how the women in the movie were not garbed in gratuitous, tight outfits which I feel are a misogynistic throwback to a male target audience. With Black Panther, there was none of that, a fact that should be applauded in and of itself.

Lupita Nyong’o and Letitia Wright in Black Panther (top). Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow (bottom).

I am glad Black Panther is breaking records at the box office. I am thrilled to think of a young generation of African-American kids growing up with characters like NakiaOkoyeShuri, and T’Challa as their role-models. And I am glad to see a movie that challenges the status quo as well as the still-antiquated perception we see in our country towards people of color. To quote the title character, “In times of trouble, the wise build bridges while the foolish build barriers.”


P.S. For a great spiritual take on the movie, please see Greg Morse’s article about the movie on the Desiring God site.

Advertisements

Things I’ll Miss (Part 2)

Things I’ll Miss (Part 2)

I love going to the movies. Big-release feature films geek me out. I love buying tickets in advance via Fandango and sitting in oversized leather seats at CineBistro. I loving being in the audience for opening night so that no one gets to spoil anything for me about a movie I love.

So with the recent releases of trailers for both Solo: A Star Wars Story and Deadpool 2, I twinge with a mental ‘darn it’ at the knowledge I’ll have to wait quite a while after their releases in May before I get to see them.

I love, love, love Star Wars. I grew up on the original trilogy, and the idea of a Han Solo origin story is wonderful to me. I also love the film was directed by Ron Howard, which, to me, means it’s bound to be a great film.

As for Deadpool, there is perhaps no film that does a better job at combining humor and action. Yes, the language and content is not for everyone, but if you like super-hero flicks and you love Ryan Reynolds (who doesn’t?), then Deadpool is where it’s at.

Unfortunately for me, my first shot at seeing these films, each with a May 25 and May 18 release date, respectively, will be once they’re already out on BluRay. Yes, Lee and I will be doing wonderful work in the Dominican, but it’s a safe bet I am going to be a little bummed this Memorial Day weekend.


WARNING: Very bad language in the Deadpool 2 trailer.

Here are the official trailers for both movies. Gil is awesome. 

Getting Back to Bruce

Yesterday my wife and I decided to take an adventure, skip work, and go to Winter Park for a screening of the new movie Divergent. We invested a lot of time and energy to make it all happen.

This blog post started off as a rant. A rant against all the hormone-crazed pre-teens, teens, twenty-somethings, and older women who ruined my movie experience last night. It was originally titled “Just Not Worth It”, and it was going to be a blast at how lust-filled women filled a movie theater with swooning chatter over Ansel Elgort and Theo James. So much so I actually found myself yelling – and I mean yelling – “Shut up!” in the middle of the theater.

I was going to go off on having to wait for hours and hours and hours only to have a tsunami of estrogen capsize my evening. Not to mention the fiasco of how we had to check our cell-phones at the door for the movie screening. You can only image the chaos this caused on the way out. Oh yeah, then there was the 90 minute drive back home.

I was furious, and I WAS going to rant about all that.

But as I started typing, I realized the uniqueness of the evening, and how it did end up being, after all, another big adventure for us.

In the end, we ended up with author Veronica Roth signing our copy of her novel, actor Ansel Elgort signing it as well, and getting to be two of only a few hundred people in the country who got to see the film a couple of weeks before its national release. We also made a new friend while waiting in line, and watched her have one of the greatest days of her life as she met Ansel in person.

Lee

You see, this blog post is not about me expressing my anger over something that is, at the end of the day, inconsequential. This blog post is about God speaking to me through my own words and reminding me about what is important. I’ve been angry all day, and I carried that anger with me in everything I’ve done today. I found myself snapping at people at work – although, truth be told, they really kinda’ deserved it – and I haven’t been able to really focus at all.

I feel it in my neck and in my back. What’s more, I feel it in my gut, mostly because I took out my anger and frustration on my wife as we drove home last night.

Always Angry

It’s not the first time I’ve let my anger get away from me, and I know it won’t be the last. I identify a lot with the character of Bruce Banner, and I know one of my biggest challenges is keeping my personal hulk at bay. Prayer and focus have been crucial in helping make this happen, but I lost sight of that last night.

As I began typing this blog post and found God re-arranging my personal narrative, I know it’s because He wants to see a lot more of Bruce and a lot less of the other guy.

Chaos … and a Desperate Need for a Drink

So …. Lee and I thought it would be a good idea to ditch work, trek 90 minutes to Winter Park, and try to get tickets for a special, sneak-peek screening of Divergent (opens nationwide on March 21). The E-mail we received from the PR company said, “No guarantee of tickets, but please try to make it.”

So off we went.

We arrived and there were only 25 other people in line. We figured we’d have a good shot for tickets to the 6:30 screening. 

At about 5:30, we were told we were going to get in. At 6:30, we were told the talent – Divergent author Veronica Roth and actor Ansel Elgort – were still 30 minutes out. At 7:00 PM, we’re still waiting.

There’s something about being surrounded by a gaggle of pre-teen fan girls that can make even the most patient man want to snap. I think even Gandhi would be like, “Enough already!”

I am sure I will look back on this night as another great adventure shared with my wife. Us attempting to live life to the fullest. Right now, however, all I can think about is where can I get a beer.

image

A Sudden Realization (W@HBC Day 1)

Some of my notes and thoughts from attending Wild at Heart Boot Camp – August 15

It’s the first day of my men’s retreats in Fraser, Colorado, and John Eldredge himself is hosting the first session. There was a little fan-girl squeal inside of me as he walked to the front of the presentation room. There stood a man that was a key domino in not only making my relationship with my wife Lee survive, but also in helping me return to God. Without getting into specifics, I can say I would not be at this retreat is not for the encouragement of my wife.

In John’s session, he tasked us with an exercise. “Name your favorite movie and explain why.” The ‘what’ part was very easy for me. I enjoy doing top-of-mind awareness exercises in my head, and for some time now, the answer to the question of “favorite movie” has been Field of Dreams.

Before I continue, it’s important to note I came to this retreat because I felt compelled by God to attend. I can’t explain the ‘why’ except to say it’s as if God invited me to a surprise party and I have to wait to see what the surprise is. I know God is calling me in a new direction, away from the corporate monotony in which I find myself. But as to where He’s leading me, I have no clue.

I began to answer the second part of the exercise question. ‘Why’. Why is Field of Dreams my favorite movie? I always used to think it was because I shared a connection through that movie with my dad. I love it because of the ending, where the main character Ray meets a younger version of his father and Ray asks him if he wants to have a catch. It’s because of that scene I was unable to watch the film for some time after my father passed away (8 years to be exact). The emotion of that scene is powerful, and just thinking about it make my eyes swell.

I put pen to paper and began to answer the question. “Because of Ray’s confidence in the voice he hears. He has faith and he has courage. Courage to risk everything, to give up everything for what he feels he is called to do. ”

I looked up from my notepad and then back down again. Did I just write that? Where did that answer come from? What the …. ? I’d never looked at Field of Dreams that way before. I’ve seen the movie a thousand times and it has never spoken to me in that way until today. Until I was prompted by John Eldredge to answer the question ‘Why?’. Until I was prompted by God to answer the question, “Why are you here at this retreat?”.

I call moments like these Godsmack moments, and this one was very clear to me. God’s surprise party is about me finding the courage to follow His calling for me. To stop ignoring that little voice that is telling me to go forward and to be great.

In Field of Dreams, the voice Ray keeps hearing says, “If you build it, he will come.” What I keep hearing God whisper in my ear is, “I have built you, now go on.” I just need to find my courage and strength to obey.

“I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.” -Psalm 119:32 (NIV)

My Oscar Predictions

Right now I am in Miami getting ready to board a boat. A ship, actually. The Rock Boat to be specific. But that won’t stop me from sharing with you my predictions for this year’s Academy Award winners.

It’s always tough, come Oscar season, to pick the winners of the golden, bald dude statuette – especially if you haven’t seen 90% of the nominated films. But as any good hack prognosticator would tell you, facts just get in the way of blow-hard, uneducated opinions. So with that I present for your musing, this year’s batch of Oscar winners.

BTW … am I the only one that hates the Best Movie category was expanded to include a zillion movies? Seriously. Who has time to watch all those flicks?

I was a bit confused to see Argo nominated again. I thought it won a couple of Oscars in 1996, but …. what? ….. I’m thinking of Fargo? Oh …. nevermind. Besides, can Ben Affleck win if Matt Damon isn’t part of the project? I didn’t think so.

It is refreshing to see a tough-as-nails action film nominated for Best Picture. What now? … It’s not called Armour? It’s not about a bad-ass cop robot with an impenetrable suit of space-age alloy? ….. Darnit! So apparently it’s called Amour and it’s a French love story about old people … and I am NOT one of the six people who saw it.

Beasts of the Southern Wild is apparently NOT about heavy-set college girls at Ole Miss, and Les Misérables is about … wait. How many French films are we going to allow in this category exactly?

Given that Life is finite and Pi is an infinite number, the oxymoronic logic that is Life of Pi confuses me.

I’d like to say Zero Dark Thirty will win simply because any film that uses scenes of dudes with machine guns and night vision will always get my vote, but it was a bit of a snoozer.

I like Bradley Cooper and I like Jennifer Lawrence, but for some reason I don’t like them together. Kinda’ like coffee and Popsicles.

So it comes down to Django and the man who set him free. Historical bio pics are always good bets for Oscar nods, and it seems like Hollywood has something against the genius of Tarantino. But I’m going with Lincoln simply because any movie that features Jonah Hill, no matter how good it is, should never win an Oscar (see Moneyball).

As for the other winners:

Best Director: Steven Spielberg. By now, you have to think other directors just cringe when they hear Spielberg is releasing a film. “Damn … there goes my chance to win this year.”

Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis, because as Honest Abe once said, “If you cut off my left foot, there will be blood.”

Best Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis. I will turn off the schtick for a second and say Quvenzhané was simply electrifying in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’ The fact she was able to take charge of every scene and command your attention as an unknown and untrained actress merits her the award.

<resume schtick>

Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz. The dude’s bad-ass. What more do you need to know?

Best Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt, because we FINALLY got to see Jamie Buchman’s lady bits.

Best Animated Film: Wreck It Ralph. Any movie about video games gets my roll of quarters.

Best Original Screenplay: Moonrise Kingdom. Is it me or does the name Roman Coppola sound a little redundant?

Best Adapted Screenplay: Silver Linings Playbook. I totally threw a dart for this one. #noclue

Best Cinematography: Life of Pi. It’s a dude, a boat, and a tiger. All that’s left is the cinematography.

And with that I am off to listen to Sister Hazel as I consume my 4th bucket of beer and my 15th piece of Rock Boat pizza. See you all in a week!