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Entries in Moday Movie Meme (156)

Monday
Apr152013

Movies Made Me Do It #atozchallenge

Movies made me try a mojito cocktail drink once, in Manayunk. Unfortunately, it made me sick, but I still have Michael Bay’s cop action flick “Bad Boys II” starring Will Smith, Martin Lawrence and Gabrielle Union to thank for that.

At least now, I know that mojitos are not for me.

Movies also made me want to visit New Orleans, although, I still haven’t gone and was skeptical about it following Hurricane Katrina. The drama “Eve’s Bayou” starring Lynn Whitfield and crime thriller “Double Jeopardy” starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones are the culprits for my interest in that city. I guess you could say that these experiences and desires are cases of life imitating art.

For some time, however, I’ve been wondering about the opposite effect of what happens when art imitates life. What does that look like? Does it manifest in a depressing dramatic piece that makes you want to slit your wrists? Is it an action-adventure flick where the hero wins in the end and everybody goes home happy? Or, does it embody that of a light slapstick comedy where characters don’t take life too seriously? Maybe it shows itself in the form of a horror or thriller film that keeps you on the edge of your seats and no matter how much you want to look away, something about it keeps you willing to be there for the ride. So, why aren’t some of us as excited about our lives as we are movies?

If art imitates life at times, be it either fantasy or reality, we’re the ones inspiring these very stories. Yet, we are less enthusiastic about going about our day-to-day activities than those of fictional characters in imaginary worlds. For those who find this observation hard to believe, I ask of you just one simple question – If YOU could step outside of yourself for a minute and then watched the movie trailer or preview of your life, would you want to go see the full feature? If the answer is yes, then kudos to you for living a fulfilled and exciting life – feel free to share your tips, tricks and/or secrets on how the rest of us can follow suit. If the answer is no, or even if it’s that you’d rather wait for it to come out on home video or cable, then it’s time to do some serious auditing of why that is and then what’s it going to take for you to change that.

Many people can’t wait until opening weekend to see the latest release that’s had the most buzz or is featuring their favorite actors. We camp out for hours on sidewalks, sometimes in unsavory weather conditions, to be first in line for the good seats at midnight showings of “Twilight: New Moon.” We order advance tickets for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1” because we’d be damned if we show up to the theater and it’s all sold-out. We opt for IMAX 3D because standard definition no longer cuts it when “Iron Man,” “The Dark Knight” and their friends are saving the world with super powers and fancy gadgets.

We even plan ladies nights out for “Sex and the City 2” and dress to the nines, like it’s the friggin’ high school prom – despite the fact that no matter how big of a fan you are of Carrie and her gang, it wasn’t even that good. When those two hours have passed, the end-credits on these movies begin to scroll and the theater lights to up, we feel entertained, satisfied – maybe even a little complete. Then, we go on back to our own lives -- where the thrills are few and far in between, the laughter is nowhere to be found, the camaraderie among friends and strangers alike is long gone and the freedom we felt to take our days by the horns and explore all that awaits us to the fullest of our abilities, just dissipates into thin air.

Of course, I’ll be quick to make it clear that there is nothing wrong with watching movies. I want everyone to watch as many movies (including mine) as they can in whatever amount of time is given to them.

When we start to use film as our constant escape from a life that doesn’t measure up to our expectations or quest for happiness or hopes and dreams or whatever it is that we’re seeking, then there is something wrong with that picture. You don’t need Tyler Perry or Madea to find religion, if that’s what you want in your path. You don’t have to watch “Waiting for Superman” or “Won’t Back Down” before getting involved with a local education system that you’re not happy with. You don’t have to replay “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” or “The Hangover” in your head to live vicariously through their vacations and pastimes.

Consider how sad it is that many people wait until a release date to have fun – as if it’s the only time that they think they can or deserve to enjoy their time; when there is no guarantee that they will even be here tomorrow. The thrills of life do not reside solely in two-hour blocks of Movie Theater showtimes. If we want to be amused, inspired or mesmerized by an experience, we must go out and create it for ourselves at every opportunity that we receive to do so. It would be awesome if one day, many of us lived the kind of lives that someone would want to make a movie about. That would be some kind of life – one that film producers and/or directors reflect on during television interviews and then tell reporters that YOU made them do it!

On another note, the theme for this week’s Monday Movie Meme is loosely based on today’s topic: Going Places. Share on your blog or in the comments section, movies that made YOU want to do something that you never did before. I’ve already listed some of my selections in the above A to Z Challenge post. Now, it’s YOUR turn!

What movies made YOU want to do something you never did before?

If YOU saw a movie trailer or preview of your life, would you buy a ticket to see the full length feature?

Monday
Apr082013

Monday Movie Meme – Give Me a G for… #atozchallenge

My Art History teacher once said “Life sucks and then you die – but you get to pay some taxes in between.” It is a statement that always makes me laugh because I’ve replayed that classroom lesson back in my head quite a few times since then.

Anyone who has gone through the brunt of some of life’s troubles such as disaster, illness and related woes would agree that, yes, it does suck.

 

Let’s not forget, however, the one truism that we can always count on in life whether we want to or not – it could always suck more!

You do not have to look far to realize that on any given day, you’re in a much better position than someone else, somewhere, who would kill to walk a mile – maybe even literally -- in your shoes. While everybody’s situation is different, there are usually options for finding an upside in the circumstances, thoughts, people or feelings that often bring you down.

It’s a shame that most of the time, it takes a funeral or the learning of someone else’s plight for us to realize that in some ways, we pretty much have it made – at least compared to worse-case scenarios. Still, looking in from the outside gives us a glimpse of what it’s like to really live a life that sucks. Then maybe we would start to appreciate the small edge that we do have, even if it’s a small one.

Do you want to trade your friends or family for a new set because they aren’t treating you well or showing you respect? Do you think they’re annoying? Mean? Embarrassing? Careless? Well, at least they’re not like throwing televisions or other large electronics at you like Precious’ mother is doing in Lee Daniels’ drama, “Precious” starring Monique, Paula Patton, Gabourey Sidibe and Lenny Kravitz. You’re also lucky that they didn’t lock you up in a cage and act like you didn’t exist, the way King Louis XIV’s twin brother does in the action adventure film “Man in the Iron Mask” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. You also might want to keep in mind that the people in your life aren’t deliberately trying to get you killed like Faramir’s father, Lord Denethor, is in “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King.”

Do you hate your job and or co-workers? Do the administrators or teaching staff at your school stressing you out? At least they aren’t black mailing you, following you and putting wiretaps on your every move the way a Harvard Law school grad’s employer and colleagues are doing in the thriller “The Firm” starring Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. By now, you get the idea that whatever misfortunes have come your way, they can be better tackled – or at least managed well -- with a more frequent practice of one thing: Gratitude.

Share on your blog or in the comments section, ONE movie you can think of that features people showing gratitude. Be sure to link back to this post and visit the blogs of fellow Monday Movie Meme or A to Z Challenge participants. Here is my selection for this week’s Gratitude theme.

Gran Torino

Walt’s neighbors leave flowers and baskets of food on his front porch after he chases away a local gang who attacked their son.

What movie can YOU think of that features a form of gratitude from one person to another?

Can YOU describe one of the most poignant “it could always suck more” moments that you ever had?

Monday
Apr012013

You’ll never Leave Africa… – The Danny Archer Effect #atozchallenge

*Spoiler Alert: This post contains information that reveals important plot points in the film it references. If you have not yet watched the movie and plan to do so in the future, some of the following content might spoil the plot and your viewing experience. Read at your own risk.

In Honor of Letter A marking the first day of the A to Z Challenge, I would like to say a special thanks to Arlee Bird at Tossing It Out, for starting this blogathon. He makes it possible for thousands of bloggers from around the world to meet new people, build confidence in their writing, expand their knowledge and keep the fun in blogging. Thank You Arlee!

“You’ll never leave Africa” is what a ruthless military colonel says to a diamond and gun smuggler named Danny Archer in the dramatic thriller “Blood Diamond” starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly. These discouraging words are delivered in such a matter-of-fact way that one would believe Archer doesn’t stand a chance. A combination of business savvy, determination, warfare survival skills and compassion are what leads him to a kind of promise land that is much more valuable than the destination he initially set out to reach. Although Danny Archer is a fictional character, we can learn a lot from him in regards to selflessness, creating a legacy and making our every breathing moment count no matter how much time we have left.

While in jail, Archer met a mine worker named Solomon who possessed a large diamond. So he manipulated Solomon’s interests in finding the miner’s kidnapped son (who has now become a child soldier), upon their release from jail, to get access to this diamond. Archer considered the diamond to be his ticket out of “this God forsaken country” we call Africa. Archer then met a journalist named Maddy who challenged his intentions, as lives were placed in danger – and even destroyed -- in the process of this man’s selfish quest to do whatever is necessary to retrieve the precious stone.

When Archer’s colleagues start acting shady and turn on him, he starts to realize that there are other people who deserve just as much (if not more) of a chance at a ticket to freedom, as he does. The dangerous mission to find Solomon’s hidden diamond also brings Archer in contact with people whom he never met before – yet suddenly became his new allies. Although a rare diamond turned Archer into a greedy monster at times, he used his very last moments to bring change to the brutal realities that Solomon – and people like him face in the wake of political tensions and war that ravish the very place they once called home.

Since the diamond never belonged to Archer in the first place, he paid a heavy and unimaginable price to obtain it, which goes to show that one person cannot rightfully find peace, happiness or riches through the fruits of another person’s labor – especially when these things are sought after in a self-absorbed manner. It is something that Archer may have realized when he chose to sacrifice himself -- and his dream of leaving Africa – for Solomon’s benefit. Solomon found peace, happiness, safety and riches through the fruits of Archer’s labor via connections with Maddy and a pilot who – in addition to the diamond – were Solomon’s “tickets” to a better place.

Archer and Solomon’s experiences are an example of how sometimes, the best way to get to where we want to go is by taking actions that work for the greater good of more people beyond our own reach. Danny Archer helped another man survive war, reunite with family and start a new life in another country – one not laced with conflict and devastation. It is because of Archer that Solomon was able to escape a tragic and possibly deadly fate. So in a sense, Archer did get what he wanted -- his body may not have left Africa but by helping Solomon, he reached his destination – in spirit. Archer’s memory lives on through the survival of a fisherman-turned-miner and his family as well as through Maddy’s telling of the trials and corruption that got them to a new, more promising land.

Danny Archer gained fame, friendship, character, integrity and a legacy that affects the lives of other people – individuals and families he will never know.

Through his actions, he made his life more valuable than one piece of jewelry or plane ticket could ever bring him. It is a prime example of what the Leesburg 33 survivor said, about there not being any human gains without somebody sacrificing, in Shari Thompson’s documentary.

So the next time you long to relocate or have a healthier lifestyle or achieve some other type of goal, I ask you to consider the possibilities of reaching it by using your knowledge and/or resources to help someone else.

Do YOU have an “Africa” that you want to leave? If so, what is your “ticket” out of there?

After slacking off on The Monday Movie Meme last week, it returns today but is going to be quick throughout the month while I do the A to Z Challenge. This week’s theme is based on Danny Archer’s quest described in my A to Z Challenge post above: One-Way Ticket.

 

Share on your blog or in the comments section, ONE movie featuring someone who is depending on one key thing to change his or her circumstances.

My selection for this week’s One-Way Ticket theme is: “Children of Men. The main character in this movie risks his life to save the human race by aiding in the transport of the world’s only pregnant girl. The girl’s baby is his and the world’s “ticket” to a better existence.

What ONE movie have YOU watched that features someone trying to change their circumstances by obtaining one particular thing?