Wednesday, February 17, 2010
When I picked this film out for a night's entertainment, I had no idea what it was about, and moreover, had no idea that it would be so good.
A gritty tale of civil war and ethnic cleansing, this movie was by no means a popcorn flick. Very serious and also somewhat dark, I suggest that viewers use discretion, particularly with children. (And no, I must quiet your thoughts--this was not another PC statement movie. This was worth my time.)
The production value was just fine, and the film had good action sequences. Directed by Antoine Fuqua (who had his start with one of my personal favorites, The Replacement Killers) and accompanied by a fitting score of the ever-amazing Hans Zimmer, there was little to complain about.
Language was common, sex and nudity limited (counting some quick flashes of rapings*). In reply to a priest's "Go with God!", Bruce Willis's character, Lt. Waters, quips, "God already left Africa."
What I liked about the film was not so much the story as the men making their way through it. While there are women in the story of course, I felt that this was predominately a story about men--the choices they make, and the consequences that they must abide.
[SPOILER WARNING] Without revealing too much of the plot, American Spec Ops sent in to rescue a few residing non-nationals who have claims to American citizenship find their mission much less palatable than it might have been. Under Lt. Waters, the beginning actions of the soldiers are according to orders, but also at the same time somewhat reprehensible. Waters tricks one of the mission subjects, Dr, Kendricks (Persephone from the first and second Matrix films) into leaving the people she refused to leave behind. The Lieutenant then orders his men to holds the refugees at gunpoint as they prepare to board evac helicopters, abandoning them at the LZ. Long story short, Waters can't follow through, returns to take them to safety, and soon has his unit stranded along with them. All the while, hostile guerrillas are intent upon massacre. A string of moral choices follows.
Lt. Waters and his men deal with issues such as, to obey or disobey orders, to defend and protect refugees or not, etc. A great deal of the film is spent showing Waters and his men progress more and more towards the proper direction and make the correct, albeit difficult, choices. (One particular scene comes to mind, when the Lieutenant leads an attack on guerrillas in the midst of massacring a village. They justly kill all of them--though one of them, more than just a rapist, is knifed to death by an angry American soldier after being captured--but in doing so he breaks his Captain's rules of engagement.) The soldiers protect, fight, and sometimes die for the refugees.
Thus, Tears of the Sun was an unexpected vehicle that encourages the tough issues to be considered. For the Christian warrior, such considerations are not only worthwhile, they are a necessity. It was an added pleasure that this movie gave the proper answers.
* ADULTS ONLY - The few quick shots of rapings are difficult to see and obscured, but nonetheless show women in compromising positions. It is difficult to say for certain if true nudity was present, but if it was I surely missed it. Squeamish filmgoers will want to be aware that we do see a little bit of a woman's bloody chest, and it is explained that the guerrillas cut off the breasts of nursing mothers with clear intentions. Be forewarned.
Besides his short appearance in The Bourne Identity (2002), this is my first introduction to actor Clive Owen. Concerning the acting and the film itself, I was quite pleased.
Film-wise, what can be expected is a fast-paced, engaging (although admittedly confusing) thinker-film. The first time I saw it, I was incredibly confused; upon watching it a second time, I understood it much better and caught all the little nuances. (So, if you have trouble the first time around, give it another shot.)
Synopsis: Interpol agent Louis Salinger's (Clive Owen) life revolves around cases concerning the shady IBBC (International Bank of Business and Credit). Add international intrigue, politics, informants, arms deals, assassins, and guns and that's basically all you need to know.
Although not quite as broad of a "conspiracy" as it might appear from those who have only been exposed to hype and taglines, the viewer still is provided a worthy plot to chew on. While I don't for a minute buy the massively implicating comment made by one character, "...this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.", I very much enjoyed this one. (I hope the filmmakers also do not believe this themselves?)
From the very beginning until the very end, you have to see what happens in the end, and the twists and turns on the way keep you guessing and guessing. As a moviegoer, I really like that once in a while. Without revealing plot there is little one can say besides that this was a good one. (To be honest, the ending was rather strange. The first go-around I felt quite cheated, as if I'd been given three-quarters of a movie, but when I watched it the second time, it came off much better.)
As to Clive Owen's acting, I was unexpectedly impressed! It wasn't that I was expecting something poorer, it was that I just wasn't expecting much of anything. He gave an excellent performance that draws you into the story, and what's more, the whole time you can't shake the feel of man. That's to say, his character acting was quite the manly performance. That is a definite plus in this world of Shia LeBoufs and Leonardo DiCaprios, and it's something I always appreciate (a fact you may be able to tell if you had me choose a favorite actor--Christian Bale anyone?). He pulled of a smooth, yet very intense and gritty style of manliness that was a a real good one to watch. I'm excited to see him in some more films.
On top of that, Spencer was most pleased with the gunfight. Yes, there was only one, but what a one it was! Placed inside the architectually-engaging Guggenheim museum, with multiple gunners and an unusual twist, this was one gunfight that fans of combat sequences in films should not miss. Worth watching the entire film just for that!
Issue-wise, we had a bit of language, only one reference to sex, and, for those who it bothers, one scene with lots of blood (pierced artery). Beyond this, the film raised one other questionable issue.
[SPOILER WARNING] Near the end of the film, Salinger is confronted with the facts that he can never take down the corrupt, murderous IBBC and its constituents inside legal boundaries. Hamstrung by any and all authorities and with a "price" on his head, plus countless other innocents murdered or in danger of being so (women and children included), Salinger listens to one man offer his aid in taking down the bank, but with just one hitch--all of it must be done outside the law. Salinger agrees. By the end of it, he sees what the man meant when he said that collateral damage would occur, and what's more, he almost kills an unarmed man (the fact that this man deserved it is less convincing compared to the fact that he was trying to have Salinger killed). He doesn't, in the end, but I was somewhat disappointed to see him sacrifice any principles at all. Sure, the world's better off with him dead, but such killings are simply not my style. Still, all this raises a good question for us to mull over; when even the authorities are corrupt and something must be done to curb a great evil, what does one do?
Overall, this was one good flick, one I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys to think during their man movies.
Monday, February 15, 2010
And besides--killing babies is just horrible, virtual or not.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
See Doug Phillips and Isaac Botkin.
Saturday, February 13, 2010
First, I must mention my thanks to Mr. Rawles of Survivalblog.com for the recommendation of this strong novel by author Cormac McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, All the Pretty Horses). I have never read anything by McCarthy (I understand that the good Douglas Phillips of The Vision Forum held a negative view of the film adaptation of No Country for Old Men) and have not yet seen the movie based off of this particular novel (although I most certainly will now), so this will be a self-contained review.
That said, allow me to begin my review.
I have never, ever used this word to describe any book I have read or any film I have ever seen, but I must do so now. Horrifying. Absolutely horrifying.
Scared yet? You both should and shouldn't be. The disturbing and unsettling nature of the book is the reason why I think many people should read it (note that I said "many" and not "all").
Set in a post-apocalyptic world of cold nights, dark, ash-blown days, and few humans, almost none of them friendly, The Road is certainly not a fun before-bedtime reading excursion. Likewise, I must strongly stress that if you are to read this book, prepare for one of the darkest tales imaginable. It will frighten you, disturb you, and make you go pale. But it should.
The first thing the reader will notice is just how strangely the book is written, so much so that I was surprised to find that the book was from 2006 and not the 1970's or something. A lack of basic grammar and punctuation (see the first page to see an example) is rampant--for example, there are no quotation marks! This was both annoying and jarring. The reader also has to get used to McCarthy's subtle detailing (i.e., details are often inferred and not stated) and his use of "the man" and "the boy" to denote his two main characters, a father and small son.
Many years after the apocalypse (brought about by some unexplained war), the man and his son traverse the wastelands, slowly making their way to the coast and pushing an old shopping cart that holds their few belongings. As to McCarthy's storytelling ability, I have to say that I felt he was above-par. While his style is disconcerting, McCarthy quickly and effectively connects with his readers and grabs before you know you've been grabbed. The reader cares immensely about what happens to the man and the boy he relentlessly protects and cares for. (Or, at least I did.)
The world that surrounds them is a futile one. Ash covers everything, and still falls after so many years. No animals exist any longer, or at least not to their knowledge. Any potential humans are to be seen as dangerous foes and not as friends (also make sure that if you are to read this you are comfortable with reading a story with a lot of cannibalism). I hesitate to align this book with any similar fiction as I've never encountered anything quite like it. (However, of note is that this book was read by some of those involved in the film Terminator: Salvation, including actress Moon Bloodgood.)
One huge aspect of the book that should resonate with just about any sane person is the man's unrelenting protection, care, and love of his son. It is said that they are "each the other's world entire"--that much is made crystal clear. The man gives his son the larger share of his food, protects him, and commendably tells his son at one point, "My job is to take care of you. I was appointed to do that by God. I will kill anyone who touches you. Do you understand?" This was one of my favorite aspects of the book; the quote itself was by far my personal choice out of the whole book. The man also takes pains to teach the boy the difference between good and evil, and thus the difference between them and those around them (the good guys carry the "fire", he tells him).
On the flip side, this also yields a much darker aspect to the book. The man will protect his son at any and all costs--that is partly why this is such a dark tale. With resources at an almost unimaginable low, more than once it comes down to the life of the boy, or the life of another poor soul. Take note of these scenes. Take note of what the man does to protect and provide for his son, take note of how the boy feels about what he sees his father do and what he sees in the world around him. Take all of this, and ask yourself.
As to the clear survivalist aspects of the book (the one and only reason I read it), I am impelled to ask that readers not take this book as a manual. "The man" makes countless mistakes and errors; Rawles outlined those found in the recent film, and I see it fit to link them here as they are close enough to the book. The first that comes to mind is the use of main roads, what the title was taken from. However, one can easily assume that McCarthy wasn't trying to write a survival manual, and was only trying to tell a story. I see nothing wrong with that (in fact, use the mistakes as a warning not to make them yourself!). The exception to this would be that, the moment the "war" began, the man filled his bathtub with water. Yes, do this!
The characters hunt for food such as old canned goods, dried up fruit, mushrooms, and the like. The man is constantly on the hunt for useful tools. This sort of thinking is something that everyone should have, or at least be able to adapt into at a moment's notice. In one particularly good scene, they stumble upon an underground bunker built by some old and likely deceased survivalist. Filled with food, ammunition, and useful items of every description, I personally took this part of the book as a "You had better!" warning. (However, please make sure to include an actual gun alongside the ammunition if you do build such a bunker, if for no one else than the man and the little boy that might one day find it unused.)
[SPOILER WARNING!] The book also deals with the difference between men and women in such situations, also discussed here. Without giving too much away, men fight on, while women give up, overwhelmed by futility. (Though not always--this wasn't some sort of chauvinism fest for any who may think so.)
All that said, a few of the issues I had with the novel were the following:
1) The strange and sometimes less than appropriate representation of God. In such a fallen and dying world, the idea of a God is either unwelcome, unknown, or held onto. Although seen through the story and the eyes of "the man", I wasn't particularly pleased with this treatment here. For example, on pp. 11-12, "Then he just knelt in the ashes. He raised his face to the paling day. Are you there? he whispered. Will I see you at last? Have you a neck by which to throttle you? Have you a heart? Damn you eternally have you a heart? Oh God, he whispered. Oh God." On page 114, when he is particularly desperate, "Curse God and die." And on page 5 we read, "If he [the boy] is not the word of God God never spoke." When a flare is fired, the boy wonders if it could be used to show God where they were. The man replies, "Yeah. Maybe somebody like that." (p. 246)
Another scene actually has "the man" himself question a dying person's lack of belief in a higher power. The man also speaks of prayer once (p. 234), although in a somewhat secular manner, and his son offers prayers to people on more than one occasion (for example, as a thankskgiving to whoever left the food-laden bunker behind). When an appropriately religious character is introduced, the boy still finds it easier to speak to a person instead of God, and said religious figure told him it was "all right" (p. 286).
2) ADULTS ONLY The sexual content, although very minimal. The man dreams about his wife, and references to her breasts (p. 131) and her nipples (p. 18) are made. Thankfully, this is as far as it gets (not counting a passing reference to rape).
Now I will proceed with a very unusual tactic I haven't quite used before in any of my reviews. I am going to tell some of the biggest (though by no means the only) spoilers so as to provide a way for interested readers to decided if they want to read the book or not. They are true plot spoilers, and are immensely disturbing, so I warn any and all right here and right now. If you wish to proceed, you can't say I didn't warn you, and if you can't handle reading what I'm about to say, then don't even try reading the book.
[SPOILER WARNING!] In one scene, the man finds an underground cellar, locked and filled with naked and emaciated people, barely alive and huddled in a corner. As they come to, they are desperate for help from him. He flees from them, knowing that he can barely provide for his son, let alone a party of extras. Chillingly, as they flee they find just why these people were locked in a cellar. Several people, men and women included, are keeping them there until they eat them, one by one. Forced to hunker down and spend the night near the spot to avoid detection, they hear the screams of one of them....
If that doesn't scare you, then this will. In a scene that literally made me take my eyes off the page for a moment and is the final qualifying reason I call the book "horrifying", the man and the boy feel someone is following them. Turning off the road to watch, they see several men and a very pregnant woman traveling. They let them pass, then sleep the night, next morning awaking to find smoke in the distant sky. They make their way to the site of the fire, and find a hastily abandoned camp where said people had only minutes before been. On a spit over the remains of a fire is the gutted, beheaded body of a small baby. They were cooking and eating a baby only hours old. Readers have good reason to infer that the mother herself was complicit in this as well.
So, there you have it. I have provided the necessity; you choose for yourself whether or not to attempt a read. (And yes, I am convinced that Oprah simply did not read this herself!)
I recommend this book, with the reservations listed above, and also, I can recommend it to men only. As to women, I hesitate to do so, and as to children, I must stress that this is not child-friendly in any way, shape, or form. It makes you think about the what-ifs of a possible future, and it forces you to think about what it may do to you and the people around you, loved ones or strangers, if such a thing did happen. For these reasons I recommend this novel to thoughtful, martialist*, survivalist, Christian men.
*As defined by Craig Mutton of WARSKYL.
EDIT: Craig Mutton has brought it to my attention that the word "martialist" exists outside of his own usage of it and was not "coined" by him. My apologies to my readers for the mix-up, and my thanks to Mr. Mutton for the notification.
Now I don't know about you, but for this guy who won't so much as touch even red wine, this almost makes me want to start sipping vodka. Almost.
Starbucks has brushed aside a request from a gun control advocacy group to ban the display of guns in its retail locations, saying it will abide by laws that allow patrons to openly carry unloaded weapons.
The national Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence made the request in the wake of a series of meetings in local restaurants over the past few months by Bay Area Open Carry, a group that hopes to make it legal to carry loaded guns in California. Peets Coffee & Tea and California Pizza Kitchen responded to similar requests by banning displays of weapons in the companies' coffeehouses and restaurants.
"Starbucks does not have a corporate policy regarding customers and weapons; we defer to federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding this issue," Starbucks' customer relations department said in response to the Brady Campaign's request....
Remember this piece of garbage I posted just a little while back? (And I don't get it--what's so terrible about that little symbol there anyways?) That's what the article is mentioning when it says, "The Brady Campaign has sent e-mails to its approximately 180,000 members nationwide suggesting that they e-mail Starbucks asking the coffee giant to create an anti-gun policy." (Yes, I get Brady Campaign emails. No, I'm not the Devil. I've always believed that the best way to win a war is to study the strategy of the enemy.)
I surely don't know Starbucks' policy and other important issues (homosexuality, baby murder, etc), but for right now, I really feel like walking into a local Sbux and saying, "I don't normally drink coffee, but I'll have the grande 2nd Amendment...."
Monday, February 08, 2010
President Obama has picked to advise him on military actions inside the U.S. the Missouri governor whose state "Information Analysis Center" last year linked conservative organizations to domestic terrorism and said law enforcement officers should watch for suspicious individuals who may have bumper stickers from Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin....
The original announcement said the new council is to include governors and administration officials to review "such matters as involving the National Guard of the various states; homeland defense, civil support; synchronization and integration of state and federal military activities in the United States; and other matters of mutual interest pertaining to National Guard, homeland defense, and civil support activities."...
It was in 2009 when the MIAC issued a report that not only linked conservative groups to domestic terrorism and warned law enforcement to watch for vehicles with bumper stickers promoting Paul and Baldwin, it also warned police to watch out for individuals with "radical" ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes....
"Police were instructed to look for Americans who were concerned about unemployment, taxes, illegal immigration, gangs, border security, abortion, high costs of living, gun restrictions, FEMA, the IRS, The Federal Reserve, and the North American Union/SPP/North American Community. The 'Missouri Documents' also said potential domestic terrorists might like gun shows, short wave radios, combat movies, movies with white male heroes, Tom Clancey novels, and Presidential Candidates Ron Paul, Bob Barr, and Chuck Baldwin!" ALIPAC wrote....
The rebellion to Obama's plans regarding the Council of Governors had come from the Tenth Amendment Center, which is recommending a model legislation that states can use to limit the activities of their own National Guard members....
Read the whole article, and take note.
Mom appeals to government: Don't pull plug on my baby
Are some people even human anymore?
North Carolina limits freedom and liberty due to snow.
No guns in your own cars! What's next? No guns in your homes?
Tell Starbucks: Offer espresso shots, not gunshots
Here's something for you from the "other side." This is trash. I'm thinking about penning a letter to Sbux and posting it here for others to use (although someone somewhere has probably beaten me to it). Anyone interested?
Judge Walker’s Skewed Judgment
The Prop 8 judge is a sodomite?!?!?
ADF, Stand4MarriageDC appeal decision to redefine marriage without voter approval
“Gay rights: Don’t ask, don’t think”
Veterans Defend “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”
Tax court allows deduction for woman’s sex change
So...question for these people. If I go get a bionic shotgun with accessory flamethrower stuck into my arm, will they cover that, too? Didn't think so.
Canadian Station Pulls Pro-Life Ad – Too “Graphic”
Follow the links. This is something you really should watch.
Immigration judge: German anti-homeschooling policy ‘repellant to everything we believe as Americans’
Makin' Hitler proud!
Taxpayers pay $101,000 for Pelosi's in-flight 'food, booze'
"Recession? Whut ruh--hiccup!--cession?"
Ouija board a controversial toy for tots
This is nasty, but then again so are most kids' toys these days (see upcoming post).
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Saturday, February 06, 2010
P.S. And Spencer also appreciates the Security Statement here. Ha!
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
T-800s, NS-5s, Sentinels, or even C-3PO or Robby the Robot, it matters not. What matters is that they are coming and I believe they are dangerous. Yeah, yeah, you've heard it all before. Just some more grumbling by an old-fashioned barbarian who would sooner chuck his computer out the window than tolerate it, right? Hold on, and allow me to speak.
While the majority of these kinds of stories, in fiction at least, involve the AI unit(s) evolving to a higher state of some sort (as in the Terminatoresque idea of a state of self-awareness), it is well known here that I do not believe this can or will happen. Perhaps my first introduction to this kind of thinking came from Rousas J. Rushdoony's book, The Mythology of Science (which, by the way, if you haven't yet read, you should). Organisms cannot evolve, no matter what any Darwinist tells me. Therefore it is all the more impossible for a machine to do so. The AI units we see in the Terminator films (Skynet), I, Robot (VIKI), the Matrix trilogy, and even the recent bore-fest Eagle Eye (ARIA) will never happen. I firmly believe in this.
So why worry? Why be concerned? All we may ever see are incidents of malfunction, or, perhaps even android soldiers, with a human commander, used for a purpose. I believe that such events can, and likely will, happen. But neither of these incidents require anything even close to self-awareness.
We know what machines can do now. They can move, walk, and even talk, all independently. They also possess a rudimentary form of processing that some would be tempted to call thought. They can feel you touch them, turn around, and say "Ouch! Do not touch me!" The list goes on and on infinitely.
So how can they do all these things? We humans programmed them to do so. No matter how advanced, how amazing, or how "smart" these machines may become, humanity will always be the creator, will always be one step ahead.
Considering all of that, I am impelled to ask, what will these machines be capable of in the future? Or rather, what capabilities will we, as men, give them, the machines?
Don't ask why, or who, or any of those questions right now. Just ask yourself this: What if a human designer were to program an artificially intelligent machine to fight, hunt, and kill humans? What if this (these?) machine had no other function, indeed, was not capable of any other function, than to attempt the extermination of all of humanity?
"That, detective, is the right question."
I ran into an acquaintance today, one whom rarely speaks to me. This time I grabbed her attention without even knowing it. After a quick greeting she hurried over to me as if she wanted to talk; due to her background, I guess is why.
"So what's with all your tactical gear, Spence?" (Again, in a world where most men have no idea what "tactical gear" is, I told you it's due to her background.)
"Tactical gear?" I said. "It's my keys and cell phone!" I showed them to her to see. Her concern instantaneously fell; she was no longer "worried". Yes, I'm the kind of guy to love and wear tactical gear. But keys and a cell phone?
Okay guys. Here is my cell phone case, and my keys are attached right next to it on my belt via this thingy. Both are black (no duh--forget who you were talking to?). On my keys are nothing but keys and key rings, save a very small silver utility knife (think like a Swiss Army). I was wearing black cargo shorts, sandals, and my Expelled t-shirt (is it just the t-shirt--again, really?)
So you tell me, friends. Why was this so scary to her?
I'm afraid that part of me will now always fear the Beast. This isn't the first time he has struck, but it certainly has been the worst. I've certainly changed in some ways, permanently. It's this Beast that I'm still afraid of...even now I feel almost premature in writing this. The current state of the world is just so that it nourishes the Beast beyond any other circumstance. I do not feel ashamed to tell you today that I fear it. But, a long time ago, when I was still in the business of creating maxims for myself (something that Stonewall Jackson did for himself in his younger years as well, curiously), I thought of what rings true today: It isn't whether or not we feel fear, that makes us men. It's what we do in the face of it.
(Speaking of all that, I just realized a week or so ago that the motto fortitudine vincimus is an excellent motto to apply to the past 18 months--brownie points to whoever can figure that one out.)
But, that wasn't my point in posting. I want to thank you all for your prayers and comforting comments. It may just be that, after all of this, my General has ended the lesson (and I can only hope that I did learn the intended lesson--I know I learned more than one). Only time will tell. All I can say now is, things are definitely looking amazingly better.
I hope my blog posts will slowly increase, as I'll have more time to do this or that now. I have a real crapload of reviews of books and movies for you that have piled up, and various other posts that I'm sure you all will love. Anything anyone wants to see? Misses? Likes? Bring it up here and now! I'm in an exceedingly harmonious mood. :-P
So, it's time to praise our God! Best Commander in the world. ;-)
Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Banner Fossil for Evolution Is Demoted
One Year Later
My Latest Suggested Reading List
Christians threatened with arrest in Richmond for sharing Gospel, lawsuit filed
Mother Faces False Truancy Charges
Middle school investigates flu shot
Busted! Obama praise planted in U.S. newspapers
Congressional bill would guarantee DC vote on marriage
Morning Bell: It Is Time To Prioritize Security Over Terrorist Rights
Top Muslim group withholds tax records from IRS
Atheists' 'hate' sign blasted in lawsuit