Category Archives: Confessions

WARRIOR (2011)

It wasn’t until yesterday that I began doing what I needed to do in order to fulfill the objective of this blog.  I went out the the cinema and saw a new release.  If you somehow managed to begin reading this article without looking at the title, the film I saw was Warrior

Now, before I begin my critique, I feel the need to mention a few things.  Most notably, I’m not really a fan of fighting.  I don’t watch WWE, UFC, professional boxing, or anything of the sort.  I’ve just never found it particularly interesting to see men harm each other for sport.  And, when I look at them as I look at NFL or MLB professional athletes, I think it an odd, if not disappointing choice of career.  However, much like 2010’s The Fighter, I adored this film. 

THE GOOD

First and foremost, I absolutely love the story of this film.  Fighting, while a major component of the film, is really just the vehicle by which the rest of the story is told.  More than fighting, we see characters developing in order to fight.  Joel Edgerton and Tom Hardy spend less time on screen throwing punches and considerably more time conversing with their families, fleshing out their pasts, and building an observable rapport with the other characters in the film.  Where this story truly shows itself is in the family dynamic.  Hardy and Edgerton are estranged brothers, who are both estranged from their father, Nolte.  And, throughout the film, there’s no absolute moment of resolution.  Instead, Hardy grows minutely closer to (or simply less likely to throw a punch at) his father when Nolte hits his lowest point.  Edgerton "forgives" his father for ignoring him throughout his childhood, but still doesn’t actively engage him.  The dynamic between Edgerton and Hardy is more interesting and the actual meat of the film.  While they spend little time together on screen, you know throughout the film that their encounter is inevitable.  Then, upon meeting, you discover that Hardy resents Edgerton.  And, when they’re in the cage, Hardy holds nothing back. 

So, trying to not spoil this film too badly, I think I should move onto the characters.  While I’ve already summarized them above, their characters are so important to the quality of this film that I need to describe them in detail. 

First, and I am playing favorites here, is Brendan Conlon (Joel Edgerton).  In the beginning, we’re presented with a family man celebrating his daughter’s birthday.  Obviously an attentive father and husband, we recognize him to be a "good" character.  When he goes to work, as a high school physics teacher, we observe his classroom dynamic.  He’s well liked by his students for being entertaining and down-to-earth, which only reinforces our sympathy for him.  His good fortune goes south however, as his house is scheduled to be foreclosed upon and, in an attempt to earn some extra money by joining an MMA fight, he’s suspended from his job.  Ergo, we’re left with a good man struggling to provide for his family.

Our other main character, Tommy Conlon (Tom Hardy), exists as a stark contrast to his pure brother.  Tommy is the dark horse, an outrageously evident antihero whose amassment of issues seems almost ridiculous at first.  With the down jackets, watchman’s cap, and paper-bagged bottle of alcohol, he’s the stereotypical vagrant.  Luckily, he sheds the comical vagrant look to detail his background.  First a professional young wrestler with great aspirations, he eventually left his raging alcoholic father with his dying mother.  When she passed, he joined the marines.  Upon having his closest brother-in-arms killed by friendly fire, he goes AWOL, but doesn’t manage to escape the warzone before saving the lives of a few fellow marines.  Now on the run from military police, attempting to provide some sort of support for his fallen comrade’s family, he reunites with his father (still hating him) to begin training for the MMA world championship, Sparta.

Beyond Hardy and Edgerton, we have Nolte and a large supporting cast.  Nolte’s character, Paddy Conlon, is a regretful father.  Attempting to repair his long broken relationships with his two estranged sons, most of the scenes show him sad, making poor attempts to grow closer to his boys, but then being rejected in all of his advances.  His character lacks any real catharsis (a recurring theme in this film), but we find one warming moment when Hardy calms him down after he’s begun drinking again.  This moment comes in great contrast to his previous attempts, as we see that Hardy retains some amount of sympathy for his depressed father.

Now that I’ve essentially explained all that you need to know about the characters that affect the ending.  I can attempt to describe why I feel that this is the greatest film of 2011.  This film, while being an exciting action/fight film, is a much better drama film.  While we have the Rocky reference when Brendon’s wife yells at him for fighting, we have a much more heart wrenching scene in the film’s last ten minutes.  Watching the two brothers fight, one for his family and the other for revenge, and seeing that Edgerton doesn’t want to fight whereas Hardy wants to injure his brother, observing Edgerton’s victory becomes so much more painful.  Needing to prevent his brother from continuing, Edgerton dislocates Hardy’s shoulder.  The doesn’t stop Hardy though, and thus Edgerton is forced to continue through sobs and apologies, to incapacitate his brother.  I can honestly say that this is the first movie to bring me to tears in over a decade.    

THE BAD

While I’m in love with this movie, like any love, it’s not perfect.  There are two main points that I felt were not up to the same quality as the rest of the film. 

The first point is simply a minor qualm I had with characters that are the subject of much dialogue, despite making relatively few appearances.  The daughters, Brendon’s children, take this role.  As a major motivational force for Brendon and virtually every opening line of conversation other characters try to have with him, I was surprised that the daughters did not receive more screen time.

My other point is the ending of this film.  It leaves the audience more saddened than virtually any other ending could have.  While that’s admirable, it also leaves you questioning the fate of Hardy as he’s been discovered by the military police as an AWOL soldier but you never actually see him being taken into custody.

THE UGLY

I truly adore this film and therefore I only have one major point for this category.  My greatest upset with this film was Hardy’s first appearances.  His physical appearance and actions in the first few minutes made it very hard to sympathize for his character.  From the negative costume choice to the pill popping to his upset demeanor at every turn, it takes a considerable amount of time and flashbacks for the audience to recognize that he’s more than just a black sheep, he’s a person whose goals and aspirations are of some merit.

FINAL THOUGHTS

I absolutely believe that this is the best film of 2011.  While I’ve a special penchant for father-and-son films, my heartstrings are even more easily pulled by brother films.  So I have a small bias for this film.  Still, whereas I thought The Fighter was a great film, Warrior takes a great film and makes an excellent film.

A BRIEF EXPLANATION

Hey, I’m sure you’ve already noticed something’s wrong.  (Nope, almost nobody checked atbreaksix today.)  To elaborate, the page is lacking a review of one of the films that came out last night.  There’s a perfectly good reason for this: I didn’t see any new films this week.  (Instantly, I’ve lost all of my critic cred.) 

NOW FOR THE ELABORATION’S EXPLANATION

I didn’t see a film yesterday for three reasons:

a.  I’m not a fan of The Planet of the Apes story and cannot compel myself to see a film that segues into the existing films.  Despite being a major motion picture, I do have my personal tastes and watching humanity’s demise (Knowing can eat it) doesn’t appeal to me.

b.  The Change-Up was given a miserable rating on Rotten-Tomatoes and last-night’s birthday girl (my friend Miranda celebrated her 19th) elected not to take her party there. 

c.  Cate (I wonder if she’ll become a regular fixture here?) asked me if we could see X-Men: First Class and I happily obliged her.  (It was my fourth time seeing this.)

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?

I will be writing at least two reviews in the next five days.  I say five because neither of these reviews will be for next week’s major motion picture release.  The first will be for an older film (1980s), Tootsie, which I watched today and found surprisingly enjoyable for a rather ridiculous premise.  The second will be for a recently released Irish film, The Guard. 

In addition to these reviews, this week, there will be the usual movie gossip post and hopefully a review of 30 Minutes or Less.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

Well, I seem to be dying more than I should…

If I remember correctly, it’s been something like two and a half weeks since my Transformers post.  While poor for my posting schedule, it was a non-issue as no major movies were released until three days ago and the books I read weren’t bestsellers of any sort.  So, what have I been doing with this incredible amount of free time?

First major event was the Bataan Death March.  (Immediately upon writing this, it seems necessary to disclose that I’m not trying to offend any cultures.  It’s a saying in my family that, whenever somebody recreationally hurts themself in an activity, they’re reenacting the Bataan Death March.) 

A few weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to go on a backpacking trip and persuaded Ed that he did as well.  So, we planned to go on the Wednesday that I last posted.  However, Ed was ill and we didn’t get back from the movie until about three in the morning.  Backpacking on three or four hours of sleep would have been murder, so we postponed it a day.  Thursday morning, I picked up Ed at seven twenty that morning.  We stopped at Winchell’s for coffee and donuts, and then drove to Will Rogers State Park.  We began the Backbone Trail with heavy packs and high spirits.  Sadly, the high spirits would not last.  Within a few miles, Ed was stumbling on the steep inclines.  His legs would cramp and we’d pause for a few minutes until the heat forced us to press on.  Despite the pauses, I have to applaud Ed’s persistence.  On multiple occasions, I offered to turn around and end the hike, but Ed never opted to return. 

About six hours after we began our hike, we made it to Musch Camp, where we’d be spending the night.  After unrolling the bed rolls, we just napped for a few hours before actually setting up camp.  We’d have probably spent the night on the ground had it not been for the annoying insects.  So, we set up the tents, ate spam sandwiches, and went to bed around eight.  Sadly, I grew paranoid and stayed up for another three hours listening to a myriad of frightening sounds. 

I woke around eight, washed up, and drank some water.  I asked Ed how he was feeling and whether he thought he’d be able to do the ten-mile hike back.  He told me that he probably couldn’t, so I told him to sit tight and I’d bring the car.  I grabbed a bottle of water (big mistake) and a Power Bar, and began the hike back.  In twenty minutes, I passed the group of women that had walked through our camp ten minutes before I left.  Within an hour, I’d covered about three miles, For day two, it was great time, but I was beginning to feel the wear I’d done to my body the day earlier.  By the end of the second hour, I was more than halfway through the hike, but I was drinking too quickly for the single bottle to sustain me and I was beginning to limp.  Three hours after I started, the limp was pronounced, my sunburns were setting in painfully, and I was nearly out of water. 

Thankfully, after three hours and ten minutes, I hobbled through the Will Rogers parking lot to a drinking fountain and hung my head in the stream for what seemed like ages.  Eventually though, I pulled away, filled my bottle, and hobbled to the car.  I put in drive and rolled down the hill to the Pacific Coast Highway.  After about a half hour, I turned off the highway and began driving up a winding canyon road.  This road shrunk into nearly one lane before I entered the Trippet Ranch parking lot.  But I parked my car there, hobbled out, and hiked the mile to Musch camp.  I met up with Ed, we grabbed our bags, and hiked back to the car.  When we got there, I tossed him the car keys, and he drove us back home.  We parted at his house, after a brief lunch at Subway’s, and I drove back to my house alone. 

I got out of the car and limped inside to find my dad.  We assessed my injuries and I got a stern talking to regarding skin cancer.  In the end, my ears had blistered and hardened from the burns, the back of my neck had literally charred from the burns, and my feet were bleeding from torn blisters.  Despite this, I felt victorious.  After a shower, I fell back on my couch and consciousness left me.

The second major event, which I’ll only briefly describe, was a family trip to Cancun, Mexico.  I left the night of Frday, July 8, and arrived the next morning.  For the first two days, we just relaxed around the pool or on the beach and ate at local restaurants.  Monday and Tuesday were spent earning our SCUBA dive certifications after four dives and a bit of skills work.  On Wednesday, we rested and celebrated my father’s birthday.  Thursday, we visited to ruins at Tulum, and played at a park called Xel Ha.  That night, we received our PADI SCUBA certification papers and temporary cards.  (Sometime soon, I’ll mail in the paperwork and receive a lifetime certification card with my picture on it.)  On Friday, we went souvenir shopping at the local bazaar (open market), where I purchased a cast Mayan calendar and, to keep up with my tradition, a litre of Xtabentun.  Saturday morning, we left Cancun and, after about twenty hours of travelling, returned home.

I plan on posting a late review of the latest Harry Potter film, later on this evening.  As a huge fan of the books a decade ago, I know that I’ll have qualms with the film.  To be fair, I’ll probably write the review in two parts, one being an objective assessment of the film, and the other as a fan of the novels.

Well, this is awkward…

Who has two thumbs and a terminal case of cabin fever?

This guy.

 

Now that I think about it, that line probably works better in person.  But who am I kidding, I don’t really care.  No, I don’t really care that I’ve been gone for two months.  What can I say?  School went into overdrive towards finals and I’ve been rehabilitating since I got home.  That’s right, school is over (I got A’s in everything but calculus, in which I got a C) and I’m back in Los Angeles.  So… where was I going with this?

Hmmmm.  Well, what is Tom up to these days?  Let’s see, I’ve…

  • purchased a gladius and have been practicing on a number of dummies in my backyard (not sure just how much longer the gladius is going to last, I’ve put it through a bit of a beating),
  • read through all of the Percy Jackson and Nicholas Flamel series,
  • begun cooking for myself again (this was an activity that I truly missed in school),
  • and wrote a résumé.

This last activity was both a major accomplishment and a source of my depression.  (It makes me feel old.)  It’s also grossly unlikely that I’ll hear back from the person I sent my résumé to, or the myriad of other businesses to which I applied.

So, what’s the point of this again?  Well, once upon a time, I had the inclination that this blog-thing would become popular and I’d be lavishing in fame and fortune.  But, true to life, I’m unpopular on the internet.  Ergo, neither fame nor fortune has entered my life.  This leaves me with the only two options: one, stop writing or, two, continue writing despite my (non-existent) audience.  I choose the latter.  Let the fame and fortune come in their own time.  I will continue to write for my own enjoyment.  (And because it will likely keep me from going mad.)

May the future be forgiving…

Rolling Intoxicated

Now I know what you’re thinking:

TOMMMMMMMM!  You should know not to drive under the influence…  You’ve seen the commercials…  You know that the cops are cracking down on drunk driving…  Besides, since when the hell were you a heavy drinker?!?  Yeah, that’s not okay.  I’m telling mum.

But that’s not the case.  Mostly because I don’t drive.  Well, I don’t drive where I’m currently living.  Yeah, that’s one of the great things about Washington, DC: The Metro.  (Which is really code for:  Driving in DC is miserable.  You should not own a car here; it will only make you unhappy.)

So, what the hell does the title mean if I didn’t get busted for DUI?  Well, it’s a bit of a confession and a public service announcement.  …I just realized that I’m still not getting away from this drinking and driving thing… 

–Spoiler Alert: This post is about Rooster Teeth Productions’ Drunk Tank Podcast–

FIXED.

Allow me to elaborate.  The Drunk Tank is a periodically-released radio show hosted by the Rooster Teeth staff members (often Burnie Burns, Gus Sorola, Geoff Lazer Ramsey, Joel Heyman, Jack Pattillo, and Griffon Ramsey) and is distributed on both the Rooster Teeth website and iTunes.  I am currently subscribed to the podcast which updates every Wednesday.  While that would have provided a relatively low level of entertainment for the last two weeks without becoming grossly repetitive, they are currently on episode 103.  Ergo, there is about one hundred hours of podcast to listen through before I start repeating.  I am currently on episode 60.  And I am loving it.

The podcast is the Rooster Teeth staff, a web-based entertainment group known for “Red vs. Blue” (RVB), discussing videogames, current events, food, and office/family matters.  Their discussions are both hilarious and informative, as well as surprisingly current despite my listening to podcast from about a year ago.  While Rooster Teeth Productions is grossly entrenched in videogames, being bread and butter of their company, it’s still entertaining to non-gamers.  When I began listening, I was almost vehemently anti-gaming (having not been immersed in a console game for at least four years and generally staying far from PC games).   However, listening to Geoff, Gus, and Burnie be genuinely excited about videogames, I’ve been converted.  Er, rather,reverted back to my old, gaming self.

Question: Why does this matter?  Answer: It doesn’t.  Next question: Why are you telling me this? Because it’s awesome.  And if I can help the Drunk Tank get more subscribers so that Rooster Teeth continues to put out these podcasts, I feel that I’ve justified my consumption of entertainment that they release for free.

Last question: What am I supposed to do now? 

Final answer:  Open up iTunes> go to the iTunes store> type “Drunk Tank” into the search bar> search> click on the Drunk Tank podcast> begin downloading episodes> Enjoy.  Alternatively (if you’re anti-Apple/iTunes/weirdness), click on the link: http://roosterteeth.com/archive/?sid=dt&v=more.  If the podcast does not begin playing immediately, go to www.roosterteeth.com , and look over the homepage for “Podcast”.

Starbucks: The Confession

After ripping on a cup and, to some degree, the company, I’ve decided that I should come out of the closet.  I am… a Starbucks addict.  Yes, though it pains me to say it, I don’t think I could function without my morning Sugar-Free Hazelnut Venti Americano.  If memory serves, and I’ve not had one today, it’s three shots of espresso with a couple pumps of sugar-free syrup, and the remainder of the cup is filled with hot water.  Altogether, it’s about the same strength of the drip coffee, but Starbucks drip coffee is kind of miserable. 

I purchase one of these drinks every morning from Monday to Thursday from the Starbucks under Gelman Library.  This Starbucks has one person to take your drink order, either one or two people on the registers, and three people serving drinks.  Now, being at the centre of a university, it’s fairly busy in the morning…and the afternoon…and the evening.  While I can often walk in and only three or four people will be in line ahead of me, there are mornings where the queue will be fifteen to twenty deep.  It’s not abnormal for me to stand in line for fifteen minutes before waiting five minutes for my drink to be made.  And for that reason, there have been several instances in which I’ve skipped my history lecture to get my coffee because I’m a zombie in java due to the inability of my school shuttle to travel five miles in twenty minutes. 

The worst part of being an addict of the most-bashed coffee corporation in history, and shopping in the bipolar Starbucks-of-doom, and missing classes to support a physiological need for caffeine, is that I don’t actually mind it.  I enjoy popping in to the Starbucks, smelling brewed coffee (which I refuse to order unless I’m going to drink more than six cups), and occasionally purchasing a muffin.  It’s pleasant and detracts from my usual routine of running between buildings and eating only because I know I won’t have another chance to eat for anywhere between five and seven hours. 

And for those who despise Starbucks like fundamentalist Christians despise Charles Darwin, these aren’t excuses.  I enjoy the feel of the a coffee shop.  I enjoy the smells and the sounds and not interacting with the people.  I applaud Starbucks for creating the most ubiquitous coffee shop on the planet.  And while I was disappointed that the Trenta is only available for cold drinks (I’d love four shots of espresso instead of three), I’ll continue to purchase my order until somebody legalizes the intravenous drip.

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