Review: ‘The Guest’

the guest poster

                Over the last few years my wife has liked me to watch a show that seems really popular across the globe called Downton Abbey, which affectionately call Downtown Abbey.  Clever right?  To me the show is fine, especially when they get rid of the horrible characters, practically all satisfactorily.  Other than that, I find myself yelling at the television about how horrible most of the characters are.  One of the good characters is no longer on the show and was played by Dan Stevens and very well I might add.  To date, his was the only character outside of Maggie Smith’s wonderful character; I would have preferred stuck around.  But no, we are stuck with the super skinny hag of a woman who still hasn’t learned to treat people right yet.  Stevens left the show to pursue a movie career, and one of his first performances that he headlines is The Guest.  Does this movie tell us he made a good choice to leave or that maybe he should have stuck around for a sure paycheck?

                A small town family is still grieving over the death of a son and brother who died overseas when serving for the Army.  One day a stranger named David (Dan Stevens) comes to their door saying that he was a friend of their son and told him as he died he would check in on them.  He quickly becomes a house guest because of his seemingly innocent charm and each member of the family builds a relationship with him.  When the daughter (Maika Monroe) becomes suspicious of him, she calls the Army base he said he was from and finds out that maybe he isn’t the man he said he was.

                Simple plot that also sounds familiar in a been there done that sort of way.  Not this one.  Stevens does a great job at being creepy charming in this role and you are transfixed by it.  You are also seemingly anxious throughout the movie because of the great score and song selection that makes even the most innocuous scene tense.  Monroe and the rest of the family cast are all pitch perfect casting.  The mom and dad, played by Sheila Kelley and Leland Orser are fantastic as a sweet mom and a kind of a bummer dad going through marriage issues and it’s believable.  Brendan Meyer does a great job as the young son being bullied and does a great job of showing how his character slowly becomes close to the main character.  The film itself also looks incredible, with some stand out cinematography and interesting lighting choices.

the guest still

                The entire film plays out like a seventies grind house thriller, minus all the cheesy acting.  This was a really fun film to watch, mostly because of the acting, music and a continual sense of not sure what’s going to happen next.  It seemed like what was going to be a clichéd and already seen it a hundred times ending, instead gives us a satisfying ending at the very last moments.  There is violence in the film, some language and a scene of sexuality without nudity that is on screen for a few seconds.  If you are a fan of interesting movies and their even more interesting cinematography as well as a enjoyable movie, this one is for you.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Whiplash’

whiplash poster

                I have two brothers, both younger than me who both have tremendous talents.  One is a great comedic storyteller who once let me be in one of his shows called Skeleton Crew which I still believe is on YouTube.  The other brother joined him in this talent and had yet another one.  He is a gifted musician who always impressed.  From reorganizing the worship music at church to the Ska band he was once in called “the Skashank Redemption”.  I remember going to his concerts during his time at high school and sometimes getting chills (as I would during his performances at church with other brass players).  He may not have gone through what the main character goes through in this film, but I could not stop thinking about him and hard he would work at whatever instrument he planned on playing.  Whiplash gave me those memories, but outside of that, was it a good movie

                Andrew (Miles Teller) is a young college student who has picked a prestigious college that has the best music program in the country to play the drums.  He is seen practicing by the unconventional teacher of the jazz band, Mr. Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) and is soon thereafter asked to join the jazz band.  Andrew learns very quickly that Fletcher is one of the toughest and meanest teachers anyone could have.  Foul mouthed and condescending he pushes Andrew and his students to their limits and even breaks some.  Andrew dreams to be one of the greatest jazz drummers in history, but will he be finally discouraged and fall flat?

                For a film that was shot in just 19 days, it is a very well done and tight film.  The editing is sound, the passing great and the acting is its best asset.  Simmons and Teller are incredible in this film.  Simmons gives not only his best performance but one of the best of the year.  He is mean, in your face and unpredictable.  Teller, who amazingly does all his drum scenes himself, is determined, vulnerable and confident as the young dreamer.  The rest of the cast, including an always underused Paul Reiser are all great.  The music is pulsating through the speakers and you feel the rush of energy through the screen.

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                “There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’”.  One of the more brilliant lines in cinematic history that is so poignant for today’s world.  Granted maybe don’t push as hard as this character did, but his motivation for doing it was sound.  In the trophy generation and a world of young people growing up to be mediocre and yet still feel entitled, this movie is the answer to that.  The answer is, push yourself and see what you can do.  Don’t stand around waiting for the congratulations, earn it.  Great message and yet it is seen as the end all of one’s meaning in life.  The main character does this for his own glory instead of something more than himself.  In a movie full of good messages it ends on a note of selfishness which in a movie that should have a triumphal ending kind of brings it to a sadder end.

                This was a fun movie to watch and be impressed by.  There is lots of language in this film, which makes sense considering the story and characters.  Still, highly recommended.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Best Films of 2014

Best of 2014

                That time of year again and once again I am late on this.  There were still some films I had opportunity to see that I thought looked like a possibility to making this list.  So, after the final film in the list of contenders was watched, I have now come up with your list for the best films of 2014:

10.          Chef

chef poster                             It didn’t take long for Favreau to make up for his directorial misstep with Cowboys vs. AliensChef is an incredibly personal movie for Favreau and it comes across with the love that he puts in the story.  It’s a very good movie that shows a very touching story surrounding a father becoming closer to his son through an adventure on the road selling food out of a truck.  With a greatly cast and a nearly pitch perfect script, this film is a huge amount of fun with some very tasty looking food.  Review here.

9.            Birdman


                This movie is one of the best acted movies in 2014.  Michael Keaton, Edward Norton and Emma Stone give some truly great performances.  It’s one of those great philosophical movies that make you think well after the credits role.  It is also a great film about the business of the theater and the behind the scenes goings on.  It is not just well acted but very well directed and looks gorgeous on the screen through the cinematography chosen.  Definitely a must see for those who love acting movies and movies about the theater.  Review here.

8.            Captain America: Winter Soldier


                Less of a comic book movie and more of an espionage thriller.  The Russo brothers brought together one of the better comic book films in the Marvel universe using one of the less popular characters in that universe.  Acting is great all around, especially from veteran actor Robert Redford.  The action and editing are tight and the sense of dread and anything is possible to our characters is there right in front of you.  Smart and fun.  Review here.

7.            American Sniper


                Extremely unapologetic about its patriotism and its depiction of the evils of islam.  American Sniper is a love letter of respect and admiration for not only Chris Kyle, but for all who serve and are sheepdogs for this country.  This was a deeply moving film about the sacrifice others do to make sure that even more people may be safe.  It is an inspiring film and one that will make your heart glad that men like Chris Kyle exist in this world to make sure the evil savages of this world are taken care of.  Review here.

6.            The Lego Movie

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                This is one of the funnier movies of 2014 and it had heart.  Lots and lots of heart.  The voice acting is top notch, especially from Chris Pratt who gives the main character the innocence it needed to make the film.  With a surprising and extremely heartfelt third act, the Lego Movie quitted all the people out there, me included; who thought this was just a cash grab.  It gives lots of laughs and brings forth a powerful message of family.  Review here.

5.            Guardians of the Galaxy

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                Not since the first Iron Man have I been this excited about a Marvel movie.  GOTG is probably the best Marvel movie to date or at least can go head to head with Captain America: Winter Soldier or The Avengers.  The casting of Christ Pratt as the lovable films lead was downright genius and the rest of the supporting cast are great as well (though anyone could have done Groot).  Simple good versus evil story in space with a great balance of action, comedy and touching scenes that made for one of the best movie going experiences in 2014.  Review here.

4.            Edge of Tomorrow


                I was hugely surprised how much fun I had with this movie.  Tom Cruise continues to show that he may be a kook, but he is still a good movie star.  Maybe it was the bad advertising for the movie, but it should have been one of the bigger box office success’ in 2014.  It was a smarter, funnier and thought provoking science fiction movie for awhile.  Emily Blunt was great as was a very funny performance from Bill Paxton.  Groundhog Day meets Starship Troopers and it works really well.  Review here.

3.            The Grand Budapest Hotel

grand budapest hotel poster

                Wes Anderson is one of the most original directors out there whose quirky visions are always a welcome addition to any year in film.  It is a great film to look at and actually a really fun film to watch.  Ralph Fiennes gives one of his best performances to date and the supporting cast is all around charming and funny.  I cannot wait for Anderson next one.  Review here.

2.            Nightcrawler

nightcrawler poster

                Probably one of the creepier, nervous movies I have seen in a long time and it was such a good ride because of it.  If Jake Gyllenhal doesn’t get huge recognition for this in the future it will be a huge shame.  His portrayal of the main character is one of the better acting jobs in years and no one could have done a better job.  It is a very uncomfortable movie to sit through, but that’s the point and the director and cinematographer do a phenomenal job here.  This is one highly recommended for those who enjoy a good thriller.  Review here.

1.            Fury

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                Not only the best film of 2014, but the best movie I’ve seen in this genre.  The story alone is worth the watch, but yet it is given even more because of the actors and director who tell it.  Shia Labeouf gives the best performance of his career and Brad Pitt brings depth to a possibly clichéd character.  The group as a whole brings realism and chemistry that is needed in this movie and may even out shine the same good aspects of Saving Private Ryan.  Add another film to the too short list these days that honors courageous men who sacrifice much for the freedoms of others.  Review here.

Honorable Mentions: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, St. Vincent, The Guest, Locke, Whiplash

                There you go.  What did I get right?  What did I get wrong?

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Review: ‘American Sniper’


                My first introduction of Chris Kyle was when I read a report on a news site about him punching, and rightly so, Jesse Ventura.  I think I may have even linked the article to my Facebook page.  I read that Kyle was one of the deadliest snipers in American history and him standing up for those who serve, especially when being in town for a wake for a fallen comrade, by punching a loudmouthed liberal, made my day.  Unfortunately I had forgotten about him and the desire to buy and read his book soon after and only remembered his story when the first trailer for American Sniper was released.  Would it live up to the legend that was Chris Kyle?

                Chris Kyle (Bradley Cooper) just isn’t cutting it as a rodeo cowboy.  He soon decides to start a new career, that of a Navy SEAL.  Shortly after passing the grueling trials that are required for the SEAL, Chris meets his future wife (Sienna Miller) at a bar where they quickly hit it off.  Over 4 tours in Iraq, Chris has to fight with his desire to be with both his family and the men he wants to protect in battle.  Dealing with the pressure of a growing family he is not there for and the want to protect his comrades with the gift he has for sniping is a big struggle for Chris.  As his legend grows among enemies and friend alike, Chris continues to tally a big number of confirmed kills, but must soon make the decision to stay in the fight for freedom or the fight for his family.

                Right off the bat the film sets a great tone with how it introduces its character.  That tone continues throughout the film, a tone of confidence and steadiness.  Cooper is perfect as Chris Kyle and plays him with buoyancy, charm and determination.  Sienna Miller does so great as the loving and supportive wife who struggles with not having her husband around to help with the family.  She plays the role vulnerably but there is a hidden strength that shows through the screen especially when she interacts with Cooper.  Eastwood has made a very good biographical movie of a man’s life that seems larger than life.  The action is tightly edited, well choreographed and intense.

                As well as the movie looks and how great the acting is, the heart of the film is set at the opening of the movie.  At a dinner table the father of Chris tells Chris and his little brother who there is in the world.  There are sheep (need protection), wolves (evil people) and sheepdogs (the protectors).  The father instills in his sons a great outlook on life that doesn’t get told enough in films.  There is evil in the world and that evil needs to be stopped by the protectors, the men and women who have that drive and desire.  American Sniper is not shy in showing the evils of the muslim world and the heroes who seek to stop it and sometimes at great sacrifice.  It’s a story that needs to be told and told again, especially in today’s world.


                 “They are savages.” Kyle correctly states throughout the film of the enemy he is sent to kill.  He is correct yet he forgot that that title covers more broadly than Iraq insurgents.  Cowards like Jesse Ventura who is currently suing the Kyle family because Kyle punched him in the face publically after Ventura bad mouthed America.  Would have paid money to see that!  Cowards, like the liberal news organizations who threw soldier after soldier under the buss.  For their continued badmouthing of the war effort during their incessant and disgusting behavior because they didn’t like President Bush.  Cowards like Michael Moore and his ilk who continue to get fat, quite literally, off their hatred of soldiers.  Cowards like Obama and his worshipers when it comes to calling muslim violence what it is, terrorism.  These people can be added to the list of savages that were like those who took drills to children’s heads for talking to Americans.

                   American Sniper is an inspiring film.  Cooper and Miller give some of the year’s best performances because of how hard they worked to honor the memory of Chris Kyle, which they did.  The violence is vivid and there is language throughout, but that’s the way this world is and if you can deal with it, I could not recommend this film more.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Fury’

fury poster

                There hasn’t been a really good WWII movie since Saving Private Ryan, although Defiance and Inglorious Basterds both came really close.  There have just been too many WWII movies out there that don’t really capture the bravery and true evil which those brave fought against.  Some of these films even tried to make the evil the Germans and Japanese soldiers did sympathetic characters to an unbelievable extent.  What I have wanted for awhile, seeing how my lovely bride has been inundating herself with military history over the last year, is something akin to the stories she has told me.  Or at the very least something that made you feel what you felt the first time you saw the Band of Brothers miniseries.  Unbroken had promises that it would deliver that, but it didn’t.  Could Fury be the movie I’m looking for or just another weak disappointment that gave it its best shot?

                During the end of WWII the 66th Armored Regiment, 2nd Armored Division has a Sherman tank crew that is one of the last tanks in the area.  There mission is to ward of the SS in their desire to continue fighting.  Leading it is battle hardened Sergeant Don (Brad Pitt), who leads a group of soldiers that control the tank called “Fury”.  The crew consists of Boyd (Shia LaBeouf), Grady (Jon Bernthal) and Trini (Michael Pena).  They return to base camp after a horrible battle, one crew member down and are quickly given orders to go out to recue some trapped soldiers with a handful of other tanks.  Joining them as a replacement for their fallen comrade is Norman (Logan Lerman) who is just eight weeks old in the Army.  The crew quickly find that Norman has a strong hesitance to kill the enemy regardless of the danger that puts him and anyone else near him in.  From one mission to another, the crew and Norman begin to trust each other as they are in the hell that is Germany at this time.  On their last mission the tank breaks down and hundreds of Germans behind them.  Can they make it out or do they fight their way through?

                Wow, Saving Private Ryan and The Great Escape may have just been kicked off the top of the list with this movie.  It has everything that you want in a film with this subject matter.  Heartbreak, courage, sacrifice, strong character, phenomenal and tense action sequences and a sense of tension as the film moves forward.  I cannot think of a better cast of actors to bring together in this film.  The two highlights, who give probably some of their best performances here, are Pitt and LaBeouf.  They are pitch perfect in their roles and bring great levity and realism to their characters.  Bernthal and Pena are quick seconds as both of their performances are funny, sad and powerful.  Jason Isaacs is unrecognizable in this film, yet unforgettable.  There are many great scenes that pull the viewer in with an uncomfortable easiness that keeps you on the edge. The look of the film uses the same color tone and cold feeling from other films about this subject lately.  It adds to the story in that you feel the dreariness through the screen.  There is some incredible cinematography and the score works on all levels.

Shia LaBeouf;Logan Lerman;Michael Pena;Jon Bernthal

                For me, one of the best parts of the movie is not just the courage of the men through the enemies attempts to kill them, but it portrays one of the more realistic depictions Christian that I have ever seen.  It feels like an honest portrayal of a Christian.  He is uncompromising, willing to engage on his faith, even to those who disagree and he is shown struggling with sin.  He cusses when he gets frustrated, is shown disagreeing and even fighting with the men around him when tensions are high.  It’s honest, its unarming and it seems true to life.  Finding out that the writer and director, David Ayer, is a practicing Christian and creates this believable character is incredible.  There is Scripture quoted throughout the film and unlike many other movies that comes out of Hollywood, they are not the typical ones and neither are they unimportant to what’s going on.  They fit each scene and each issue with the characters greatly.  One great scene is when this character is seen comforting a dying soldier and he asks him if he knows Christ.  The solider says yes and the Christian responds by saying, “then you’ll be okay.”  Then prays over him.  Touching scene.

                Fury is brutal in its showing of war violence and has many uncomfortable scenes to sit through.  Not in a bad way, but the tension in those scenes and the “what’s going to happen next” thoughts are worth it.  Lots of cussing, of course for a film like this, but no nudity or sex scenes even though they are implied.  This is my favorite WWII film to date.  Highly recommended.

4 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Unbroken’


                I read Unbroken a few years ago and was wondering how long it would make for a film to be made out of one of the best biographies in recent memory.  An impossible story that was completely true and inspiring would be a shoo in for a movie.  When I first heard that it was going to be made, I was ecstatic, then I heard Angelina Jolie was going to direct.  I was worried for a long time until the first trailer came out and it looked like it would not only be a good movie, but be very true to Zamparini’s story, especially his faith.  So my lovely bride found us a babysitter and we were off to see the film.  Was it going to live up to the book?

                Louie Zamperini (played as an adult by Jack O’Connell) grew up a rebel kid who stole, smoked, drank and always had trouble with the local police because of it.  His brother decides that Louie needs to focus that energy on the track and encourages and trains him to go on to be an Olympic Athlete.  Shortly after his first Olympic appearance, he joins the military to become a bombardier in Hawaii.  On one of his missions, his plane breaks down and crashes in the ocean and only he and two others survive.  For almost two months the men float in the ocean trying to stay sane and alive.  Two of the men survive and are rescued by a Japanese boat and taken to separate POW camps.  Louis is tormented constantly by a man the captives call “the Bird” (Takamasa Ishihara) who mentally and physically abuses all of them, especially Louis.  Will Louis finally break or will he find the strength to persevere.

                Unbroken is a very good looking film and it does pack the emotional punch that the story requires.  There were many memorable shots, well acted scenes and a sense of tension when needed.  O’Connell was a good casting choice for the main character, mostly because he seems to come out of nowhere even though he has done work in the past.  He brings the fragileness of the character in a believable way that will strike many emotional chords with audience members.  The supporting cast is decent including Ishihara who was another good casting choice.  He looks like an innocent man with a childlike face which will be disarming to people who have not read the book.  When he becomes sadistic, you actually get nervous when he enters a scene wondering what hell he is going to bring upon the others next.  Jolie did a good enough job in her first directorial effort but most of it seems too clichéd and been there done that for a WWII movie.

unbroken still

                Louie Zamperini deserved a better film than this one.  Maybe a miniseries would have been the way to go.  Here was a man who had a living nightmare and through Christ came out a man of God who preached forgiveness for enemies and lived that out.  It stinks that this film came out and feels more formulaic and uninspiring when the true story is anything but.  It ends on a weird note and then goes onto footnote the rest of Zamperini’s life seemingly because the “good” parts of the story were told in the movie you just watched.  It’s an unfortunate choice from a storytelling perspective, especially lovers of the book.

                From what truly happened to this man and many men he was surrounded with, this film is rather tame in its show of violence.  At least the bloody parts that should have come with it.  It was actually cool to see that in the showing my wife and I were at, there were many families, with children, throughout the theater.  For a much better review of this film go here.

2 and ½ stars out of 4

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Review: The Hunger Games – Mockingjay Part 1

mockingjay1 poster

                Catching Fire was a huge improvement on the first Hunger Games movie.  It improved on story, editing, character development, special effects and more.  After the second film, many, including myself, were very much looking forward to the next installment.  Now I think everyone can agree that anti-capitalist capitalist Hollywood made a greedy and stupid decision to split the last book up into two films, which is why a lot of critics who saw this film were dissatisfied, it’s the way it is.  So how did part one of the final movie fair against the last film?  Will it leave you excited for the final installment or maybe make you feel like waiting for it to be at Redbox with your free movie night coupon?

                Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) finds herself in District 13 after being rescued from her latest Hunger Games and is not coping well with having left Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) behind in the arena.  Soon after arriving and reuniting with her mother and sister, Katniss is taken to see President Coin (Julianne Moore) who wants to recruit Katniss to be a propaganda tool known as the Mockingjay to encourage other Districts to revolt.  After seeing the ruins of her former district, she agrees to do so as long as the new Districts soldiers find a way to rescue Peeta.  Plutarch Heavensbee (Philip Seymour Hoffman), former Gamemaker and recent ally of the revolution, will direct Katniss in his “props” to show the other Districts the horrors that the Capital does under President Snow (Donald Sutherland).  Katniss and a team of filmmakers will now be the main tool against the Capital.

                After reading some reviews before finally being able to take my wife to see this film, I was worried that the quality had dropped back to the originals level.  Those worries were whisked away as soon at the end of the film.  The creators once again deliver a solid piece of filmmaking with decent performances and some great action sequences.  Jennifer Lawrence actually seems to stretch her acting muscle with her character, although there is a scene of overacting that was a little annoying.  Woody Harrelson is not given much to do here, which is a huge mistake because he is one of the best parts of these films.  The part of Effie has an expanded role in this film that was an addition that wasn’t in the book and Elizabeth banks does a great job with it.  Hoffman is great in the little screen time he has, which is no surprise there.  One of the better acting parts of the film goes to Sutherland though, who was a brilliant casting choice as the main villain.  There are some great scenes throughout the film and the stand out has to be the “Hanging Tree” scene that was edited and shot wonderfully.

mockingjay 1 still

                Yet another great picture of what it means to fight against an evil that seeks to oppress people.  Both Donald Sutherland and Julienne Moore were great casting choices as their record of hating people that don’t agree with them is solid enough that they play their roles perfectly because of it.  Katniss’ character is given a little bit more to do hear in that she says the words that the oppressed wish they could scream at the top of their lungs.  There are many touching parts in the film that will make you cheer and then others that could be inspiring because of the courage certain characters show.

                This was a much better film than what I was led to believe and is worth the watch if you are a fan.  And if you are, you didn’t need me to tell you that.  The direction and camera shots are still as good as the last film and the added humor in parts of the story is very welcome in a film that could have been very humorless.

3 stars out of 4

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Love You Dad

len (2)

Yesterday, my hero died.  Leonard Richard Sostre, one of the best men I have known, went to be with the Lord with his wonderful wife, as always, by his side.  Dad was not only my hero because he raised me, but because he was one of the most selfless men I knew.  He sacrificed a lot for his family and for me, even in those years where I really did not deserve it.  Even before he was one who called on the name of Christ as his savior, he was a man that always said that everything will be okay.  That you have to have faith.

I will remember him for many things.  In Utah, when mom would be out of town, he would take me and my younger brother to Albertson’s.  There he would get the two movies and a frozen pizza for like five bucks.  They would always be the movies mom wouldn’t let us watch and we all understood that we were not to bring it up to her.  I will remember that.

I will remember my sixteenth birthday, where he was not around because he was trying to help make ends meet by working at a JC Penney call center at night.  I will remember the man that took me to buy groceries when I was on my own and even help me with gas, as he did for my brothers after that when they were on their own.  I will remember his smile as he held my newborn son up in the air for the first time.  I will remember that he cried during his speech at my wedding.  I will remember his very uncomfortable advice at the reception at my wedding.  I will remember sitting with him outside at a dinner table as we discussed with church leaders possibly becoming deacons.  I will remember him, my brothers and me lifting up beers to toast my grandmother after her death.  I will remember he was the oldest guy at my bachelor party and couldn’t hang.  I will remember interviewing him about Vietnam and him asking me afterwards if I wanted his Army stuff when he passed before giving me a tight hug.  I will remember that he would always comfort me after heartbreak and always say encouraging words.  I will remember his tears and the “I’m proud of you” at my high school graduation.  I will remember that even after 36 years of marriage, he would still hold my mom’s hand on walks.  I will remember the last words he said to me on Thanksgiving Day and of course they were “I love you.”

vietnam badass

I will miss not being able to call him up with parenting advice, husbandly advice or just to hear his encouraging words when I struggle.  Those were always important to me and always will be.  We may not have agreed on everything and butted heads more than once, but we loved each other still and looked out for each other.  I will treasure that in his last year he opened up to me on camera his time in the army and Vietnam.  Great stories that I hope to share one day I will always think of him when I watch We Were Soldiers and when I look at bald older Harrison Ford.

The tears will flow for his family for who knows how long, but we mourn as those who have hope.  Hope that he sees God’s face.  That he will no longer have pain, tears of sadness, anger, or anything that came from this sinful world.  He will know only true happiness and will feast with his Savior forever.  Praise God for His grace and mercies.  Love you dad.

“For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep.”  1 Thessalonians 4:14

“Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted” Mathew 5:4

“28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also  predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.  31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword”  Romans 8

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Quick Reviews

                Here’s a list of a few recent viewings I have gone through lately that I didn’t or didn’t want to review for whatever reason.  Hopefully I can give a short review that may peak your interests to either watch or pass on a film you might have been considering.  There can be a mix of newer/older movies with a few insights.  Here we go:

Sin City: A Dame to Kill for


                The first Sin City was visually stunning and a really good movie.  It captured what some had thought too difficult to adapt, which was Frank Miller’s gritty dialogue and storytelling.  Flash-forward way too many years and the sequel, a Dame to Kill for, is finally released and it’s almost as good as the first one.  Mickey Rourke still proves that he was brilliant casting for the Marv character.  Eva Green is great as the villain and all the other characters save once again for Jessica Alba deliver in full.  Powers Booth’s expansive role in the film is a very welcome addition.  Still as violent as the first one and much more nudity.  3 stars out of 4

Space Station 76


                His film has a great preference.  What if space technology was far advanced in the 70’s than it is today and what would that look like.  You’ll recognize the robotic therapist as well as the Nintendo power glove (even though that’s an 80’s toy) as one of the crew’s replacement hands.  Smoking is continuous throughout the film as is severe alcoholism, which fits the setting perfectly.  Not everything works as far as story.  The unbalanced Liv Tyler character seems like a waste of talent and some stories just seem to take away from the film (especially the ridiculous gay plot).  The highlight beyond the setting is Patrick Wilson’s performance.  His complete disconnect with his crew and delivery of very dry humor is done greatly.  Give it a chance just because of him and the idea of it all, but not for everyone.  2 and ½ stars out of 4

Raid 2

raid 2 poster

                Wow, what a difference from the highly overrated first film.  Two things made this movie so much better than the first one.  One, the action is all over the place and the fights don’t have the same moves over and over again.  It could have been the constraint of the first films location, but these are far better action sequences.  Two, the characters are far more developed and you actually get invested in them.  The bad guys have more to do and the main character this time is not just a walking karate man.  The story may be straight forward, but it is great to look at in some scenes and I found myself flinching during some of the fight scenes.  Definitely worth a look for those of you who love inventive action movies.  Caution though, very graphic violence.  3 stars out of 4

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Review: ‘Locke’

locke poster

                After his all out incredible performance in Bronson, Tom hardy became one of my favorite actors.  His turn as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises was remarkable all around and his turn as a military hero turned UFC fighter in Warrior is one of the reasons that movie was the best of 2012.  Check out Lawless, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and even RocknRolla to know how good this guy can be, even in smaller roles.  This film wasn’t even on my radar until my family and I went to visit her in Los Angeles before our move to Indiana.  She said it was her favorite film of the year and the trailer made me all that more interested, so we watched it that night.  So how did it hold up to Hardy’s other roles?

                Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is a construction foreman in England.  The day before a big project concrete pour at his site, Ivan learns that a former colleague whom he had a one night stand with has gone into labor with his child.  Even though he has this big project and is dealing with a horrible cold, Ivan has decided to drive to her and be by her side because it is the right thing to do.  During his drive he must deal with a very angry supervisor and his right hand man who now has to deal with the giant project without Ivan.  Also along the trip he must come to grips with what he has done, how he can’t let the way he was raised effect his decision and how to tell his family what he has done.

locke still

                Absolutely phenomenal performance by Hardy and he looks like he did it without any real problems outside of his real cold while filming.  His character is sympathetic, connectable and a very well rounded character to boot.  He keeps this movie interesting and even more so when you take into account the equally great performances of those that were only heard over the phone.  The look of the film is simple, but helps the viewer feel claustrophobic, cold and uncomfortable throughout the film.

                While what Locke’s character did, cheat on his wife, is a horrible thing, he still seeks to do what he thinks is right.  He sees himself becoming as horrible as his own father.  The entire time though, as the viewer, you are questioning if what he is doing truly is right which makes the story that much more compelling.  The odd thing is, Hardy plays Locke so matter of fact that there are times you wonder if he might not be his father, just a little more calm about things.

                Fantastic film and an even more fantastic performance by Hardy.

3 and ½ stars out of 4

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