Archive for December, 2009

No, I’m Not Obsessed. Nope.

My current desktop wallpaper...

Morning Music: Blame It On The Pop 2009

I saw this video on I”m Bringing Blogging Back and am paying it forward by sharing it on my blog.  If you do decide to share it on your blog, I would appreciate your paying it forward with a link back to my blog.  “Many thanks, Basie!” (as spoken by Christian Bale‘s character, Jim, in 1987’s Empire of the Sun).

Beyond The Senses

I can’t help it.  I believe in the paranormal and the unexplained.  Thanks in large part to my own ghostly encounter many years ago.  In addition to ghosts, I readily accept psychics/sensitives, extraterrestrial life, demons, the notion of panspermia, and unusual abilities like pyschokinesis, telekinesis, precognition, and time travel– to name but a few.

This is probably why I love shows like Heroes, Ghost Hunters, Fringe and Paranormal State.  Again, to name but a few.  I’m drawn to the stories and accounts of situations and experiences outside of the norm.  And that these are happening all around us, whether we are aware of/acknowledge them or not.

fringe_heroes_ghosthunters_paranormalstate

Fringe (Fox), Heroes (NBC), Ghost Hunters (SyFy), and Paranormal State (A&E)

I’ve always felt conflicted about many of these beliefs because of my also being a Christian.  Catholic, to be exact.  The potential that life exists (and possibly even started) elsewhere– not to mention the theories of evolution and the formation of the universe– contest my belief on the Creation.  Extraordinary abilities seem to not be limited to prophets, saints and angels.  Rather, ordinary people are able to see into the past, predict the future, and interact with spirits of the departed.  I constantly wrestle with the notion that religion grew out of the necessity to explain why things were to a populace that wasn’t ready to imagine the science behind them.

Is it possible to marry these concepts into one ultimate belief?  Or is that something someone clinging onto a security blanket would ask?  Someone who scoffs at the idea of Judgment Day, but secretly harbors a desire to be “saved” when the time comes?

I don’t know where the answer lies, and drive myself crazy pondering these thoughts.

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas!

Avatar: The Last Great Movie?

Jake Sully and Natiri

Avatar's Jakesully and Neytiri

I recently saw James Cameron‘s Avatar.  In 3D.  Twice.  In two days.  I would’ve seen it a third time in three days, but, alas, the rest of the holiday plans came into full swing and I had to forgo it.  For now.  To say that I “liked” the movie would be an understatement.  Indeed, to even state that I “loved” it would not even come close to how I feel.  It’s embarrassing to even type this review because, the bottom line, is that I was totally immersed in the world that Cameron has created, I wanted to be a part of it as often as I could while it was still on the big screen.  In fact, at my next opportunity, I’m going to see the movie again but this time in IMAX 3D.  What better way to completely immerse yourself in this type of movie than in that format?

From a storytelling standpoint, the premise is nothing new.  It was “Dances With Ferngully” (my take on “Dances With Wolves” combined with “Ferngully: The Last Rainforest,” if you literally couldn’t put two and two together) set in the far future.  A human is thrown into the lives of the indigenous people (the Na’vi) of the planet, Pandora, which they are cultivating for a mineral that would provide much-needed energy for a dying Earth.  The humans have been in Pandora for a while, and a few scientists donned in their avatars (biological exosuits created to look like the Na’vi) have been interacting with one of the tribes (the Omaticaya).  They’d set up a school near the tribe and had been teaching them English.  In turn, these scientists, headed by Sigourney Weaver‘s Dr. Grace Augustine, had learned a lot about the Na’vi’s customs and language, ingredients needed for what they hoped was future coexistence.

The problem is that the largest resource of the mineral– hilariously referred to as unobtanium— happens to be underneath Home Tree– the place the Omaticaya call home.  And the financial backers of the expedition would stop at nothing to get at it.

The human, Jake Sully (aptly portrayed by Sam Worthington, recently seen in Terminator: Salvation), unwittingly finds himself completely involved with the Omaticaya that he sides with them in the end.  Of course, like all predictable plot twists, it involves a woman (Neytiri, pictured above, as voiced by Star Trek‘s Zoe Saldana).  And, as predicted, the Na’vi win in the end.  Again, nothing new here.  The only possible way to throw something unique to the storyline is if the Na’vi wasn’t successful at protecting their world, and the humans overran them.  That may have, of course, plotted the premise for a sequel (“Avatar: The Uprising” or something like that), but I don’t think that would’ve worked for this movie.  It needed a resolution, and that’s exactly what it got.

What’s really kept and would keep me coming back for more is the visual spectacle.  Cameron waited over a decade to make this movie because he wanted the CGI (computer-generated imagery) technology to exceed, let alone catch up, to his and what he believed to be the audience’s expectations.  And the wait was definitely worth it.  Cameron and his team created a Pandora so real that one would believe it truly existed.  The Na’vi and the various creatures that roam Pandora were so believable, it seemed to me that Cameron hired Na’vi actors and trained Pandoran animals to act out his scenes.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen: it was that real. It’s the kind of advanced CGI technology 2001’s Final Fantasy: The Spirts Within” could’ve used.  It still would’ve sucked, however, but at least everything would’ve been nice to look at.

The bottom line: Avatar is definitely worth seeing over and over again for the masterpiece that it is.  To proclaim it the last great movie would be unrealistic due to the tired storyline.  But Cameron raised the bar with Avatar to a height that other future CGI movies will have to reach or eclipse.  That would be no small feat, probably even for Cameron.  Although, something tells me that’s one challenge I don’t believe he’d mind tackling.  And I can’t wait until he does!

R.I.P. Brittany Murphy 1977-2009

Brittany Murphy as Tai in Clueless

Brittany Murphy as Tai in Clueless

One of my guilty pleasures is cracking myself up with the movie, “Clueless” (1995), and my most favorite character in what I would consider a classic is Brittany Murphy’s “Tai,” who had as many hilariously quotable quips as Alicia Silverstone‘s “Cher.”

I always thought she was a brilliant actress who just never got the proverbial “big break,” often being either saddled with notable supporting roles or unimpressive romcoms (which I hardly watch).

I was saddened to learn that she had died recently, and at such a young age.  Rest in peace, “Ramen Girl.”