Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to become an action Hero: Five Simple Tips to Success

Last weekend, USA or some similar channel was showing the Bourne trilogy. If you read my first post, you know how I feel about Matt Damon, so with a lazy weekend on the horizon watching Jason Bourne in action for the better part of the day was really a no-brainer. As I lay on my couch, munching dry cheerios and watching Jason Bourne kick some serious bad guy booty, I started to think how exciting it would be to live the life of an action hero. There are no Saturday afternoon lulls for the John Macleans, Ellen Ripleys and Snake Plisskens of the world. If I could trade in my cheerios and pajama pants for a high speed chase or a good old fashioned 10:1 fight, I'd do it for sure...but would I make it as an action hero?

      Unsure if I possess the hutzpah and physical prowess it takes to become a true action hero, I decided to comb the recesses of my mind, searching for any slight memory of any action movie I've seen in my 28 years of life for insight on how to become an action hero. As it turns out, action movies don't try to hide the tricks of the trade, and it seems heroism is right at our fingertips if we only pay attention to the example set for us by the likes of Rambo, Lara Croft, and Indiana Jones and follow these FIVE SIMPLE TIPS:

1. Use the phrase "Trust me", or "Do you trust me" as often as possible, especially with women you met an hour ago. As your adventure begins you are likely to run across an irresistable stranger of the opposite sex. For reasons you don't really understand, the safety of the entire nation depends on the safety of that lovely creature. You must protect her (pardon my pronoun but action heros tend to be male, and their muses tend to be female), but how do you convince her to jump through that third story window with you, seeing as she doesn't know you from Adam. Ahh, this is easy. Action heros are trustworthy, it is a fact. If she is a reasonable human being, she will instinctively trust you but may need a little prompting. This is your cue to take her alabaster hand look deep into those big doe eyes and say what all action heros have said in pretty much every action movie ever made "Do you trust me?", having all the convincing she needs she will take a deep breath, take your hand, wordlessly nod and jump without hesitation through a quarter inch of sheet glass. From that point on, you and your lady love will be inseparable. It works like a charm, TRUST ME.

2.  Always carry extra bullets. You've just spent the last 48 hours chasing and being chased by Dr. Nasty VonDeatherstein. You are tired and you just want to end this whole parade and get home to your fuzzy slippers. At long last you've cornered VonDeatherstein, he is seemingly weaponless. This is your moment. You spout off a witty retort. Take aim! Click? Oh no you've run out of bullets, Dr. Nasty thinks fast,  knocks you into a giant vat of crisco and makes a fast get away. Now you'll be spending the next three days blotting your oily skin and combing those stubborn bits of grease out of your hair. I guess next time you'll know better. A good action hero is always prepared (or is that a boyscout?, either way you'll load up on the ammo in the future).

3. Never run away from an explosion, walk slowly and don't look back. Don't break a sweat either, it will ruin your street cred. Fire is scary, house destroying earth shaking explosion induced fire is TERRIFYING! But stay strong, remove your thumb from your mouth and buck up. No one wants to see their hero cowering from something as trivial as a life-threatening explosion. Rumor has it, Sancho Panza was once an action hero. Women swooned in his presence, all the hombres clamored to be his trusty sidekick. Sadly for him, a tavern he frequented, blew up as he was exiting and the poor slob cried for his Mommy. Don Quixote was quick to take pictures, post them on facebook with humiliating  captions and the rest is history. Don't be a Panza. When you hear the boom, put on your cool guy shades, take long slow strides and never ever look back.

4. Evil henchmen have bad aim! This may be the handiest tip of all. Many action heros have wasted so much time and energy bobbing and weaving, ducking and diving to avoid enemy fire. They were so busy running for their lives that they weren't able to see the truth whizzing by them. Though hundreds if not thousands of bullets are shot at actions heros, they are very seldom shot by anyone other than their arch nemesis or the villainous mastermind of the moment. The truth is, henchman are obstacles, not threats and not a single one of them could shoot a rhinocerous from three feet away. So the next time you find yourself in a shower of bullets, save yourself the energy. Pull out a snickers bar, sit pretty and wait till Hans and Frans run out of ammo (and rest assured they will) or accidentally shoot eachother. By conserving your energy, you'll be on your game when you finally catch up with that elusive villain!

5. A bad guy never dies the first time. Kill him twice. After what seems like an eternity (and a riveting 3 hours for your viewers), you've done what you set out to do. Dr. VonDeatherstein may have escaped you earlier, but this time you pulled a sneak attack, disguised yourself as one of his henchmen and snuck into the VonDeatherstein's inner sanctum. As Dr. Nasty peacefully places numbers in his daily Mahjohng puzzler, you sneak up behind him and  with the lead pipe so handily stored up your sleeve, knock his lights out! Satisfied that you'll never see the likes of him again, you drop the lead pipe, turn around and begin to saunter away. Ahh the sweet smell of victory...Thunk! Victory is short lived because you (newbie that you are) didn't realize you can never kill your nemesis in one try. Dr. Nasty, wasn't actually dead (though he will have a sizable headache for quite some time), while you were basking in your victory he snuck up behind you and gave you a taste of your own medicine with the very same lead pipe you so carelessly tossed to the ground. Tsk tsk, next time check that buggers pulse before you do your happy dance. Use some of those extra bullets you brought along and make sure you get the job done this time. Then and only then can you wipe the sweat from your brow, return your cool guy shades to your weary eyes and celebrate in true action hero fashion (by reuniting with your true love and kissing dramatically).

Alright, now that I've wasted all this time telling you how to be a successful action hero, I've got some serious bad guy busting to do!

And just as a reminder, here is a little extra incentive to not look back at an explosion:

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Tree of Life-A visual and emotional stunner

Well hello again!
What's that? You thought I'd forgotten I'd ever even started a blog? You caught me, life got crazy and it seemed the thing that could be pushed under the rug for the time was this little review site. But alas I've seen a movie that I can't not write about. It doesn't scream commercial appeal, so it wasn't in any theaters near me, until I moved to a sizable city and was able to catch it at an art film theater.
Yep, that's right I said art film. You think art films are pretentious tripe? I don't blame you, a lot of them are, but before you write The Tree of Life off as a film that movie snobs see just to add another notch in their "movies nobody understands" belts, hear me out.

Though I sometimes think of myself as a bit of a movie snob, I'm also a person who loves a wide range of movies, including some terrible terrible sorry excuses of film (Bubble Boy I'm talking about you!). So, even if I may at times sneer at your reference to "The Matrix" as a cinematic masterpeice, and may not agree with you that Philip Seymour Hoffman is "talented and multi-faceted", I appreciate all types of film and hope that gives you enough reason to not throw my opinion out with the bathwater.
      A long time ago I compiled a list of the 100 Best Movies of All Time (that I've seen), and throughout the years I've made changes as I discovered new extraordinary films. However, the last few years have seen a stagnant list. It's not that I've stopped watching as many movies, I just haven't seen any that were powerful enough to take the place of one of the existing top 100. After seeing Terrence Mallick's beautiful interpretation of the meaning of life (and it's origins) in The Tree of Life, my list is at long last welcoming a new addition. It's no easy task to bump a previous selection out of the top 100 to make room for something new, but The Tree of Life didn't ask to be put on the list, it demanded not only to be in the top 100 but in the top 50 and maybe even the top 25 (I'll have to see it again for this decision). I simply LOVED this film.
I don't have the words to describe it and the plot was...let's call it "abstract" so it's hard to lay out for you exactly what makes Tree of Life so great. All I can truly say is that, before Tree of Life, I'd never experienced a movie that put a lump in my throat and butterflies in my stomach that lasted long after I walked out of the theater. Certain moments in the movie are so intensely profound, I actually felt as though I had a window view directly into Sean Penn's character's memory.
*Sigh* I'm failing at convincing you to love this film. Simply put, I am in awe of this movie. I want to see it again, and I want you to see it with me.
4 and 3/4 out of five stars

Oh and just as a teaser, here is the trailer. Enjoy!