Ourselves

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HARMLESS BLACK MAN, –, KILLED BY POLICE,

— GOVERNMENT RESPONDS WITH IGNORANCE,

STUDENT’S HOMEWORK WON’T CEASE,

What’s the difference?

“That police officer isn’t hurting me,

That bill won’t change my life,”

People say who refuse to see.

With this plague our country is rife:

We don’t care

When we another casket fill

Or a cancer patient loses their hair.

Oh, sure, we think for a second until

We pass it by like everything else

And get back to that which we care: ourselves.

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Ten Movies You’ve Probably Never Heard of but Need to See

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Pardon the click bait title; as the end of the year approaches I’ve come to realize that I won’t be able to share all my favorite movies so I condensed a few of my favorites here, all of which are available on Netflix.

  1. Fred

Fred is a movie for the inspiring musician about an eccentric guy and his even more odd band. It’s a black comedy filled with surprises and Michael Fassbender does an amazing job depicting Fred: a songwriter who refuses to take off a giant mask.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=9dcLw6CPzIs

2. Poetry

This film received a 100% on rotten tomatoes and it deserves it. Recounting the experience of a grandmother whose son commits an evil deed, it’s filled with emotion, imagery, and, above all, thought.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fo2dfY317-k

3. The Usual Suspects

Kevin Spacey stars in this one of a kind crime movie with perhaps the best ending to a movie ever.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=oiXdPolca5w

4. Dear Zachary

This film is not for the faint of heart. It’s a true documentary and I don’t want to give anything away but it’s sure to leave you in either tears or anger.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=OtyY0CXdiNo

5. Snowpiercer

This independent film has everything: the perfect setting (a train that cannot stop in a world frozen over), the perfect protagonist (Christopher Evans — the same guy who plays captain America), and the perfect plot (a riot from the back of the train to overtake the train’s oppressive conductor).

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nX5PwfEMBM0

6. Goon

If you’re looking for a film with a great good guy, this is for you. Goon follows a bouncer turned hockey player that fights on the ice to protect his teammates from being hurt.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NfOZaquIhG8

7. Beginners

Beginners is a touching story about a man finding love with a woman who can’t speak after the death of his father who in his last days revealed he was gay.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rXUFUp6vsxg

8. Zodiac

Zodiac tells the story of the real zodiac killer in San Francisco and the cartoonist obsessed with bringing him in.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=bEvnwKFUnI0

9. In a World…

In a world where a famous voice actor dies and a woman competes with her father and another famous actor to replace him, she finds opposition and self-confidence.

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NuxApRnekWc

10. Nebraska

Though this film is in black and white, it’s filled with more than colorful characters and dialogue. When a man thinks he wins the lottery, his son drives him to collect his ‘winnings.’

Trailer

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aA98dqgJBgQ

Heaven on Earth?

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This weekend I watched what is now my favorite movie of all time: City of God. Despite being in Portuguese and, since my Portuguese is a little rusty, I had to rely on subtitles, the striking imagery of each scene convinced me I was witnessing a piece of art unfolding before me. Swift camera switches, flashing lights, and poetic scenarios helped me understand the work’s oppositions limpidly. In addition to the masterful filming, the themes I picked up from the ‘City of God’ were equally disturbing and inspiring. The ironic title and name of the Brazilian slum where the protagonist (Rocket) and his peers reside is contrasted greatly with the evil that resides in the favelas. Murder, thievery, and gang wars — among other things — plague the residence where Rio De Janeiro throws its outcasts, its homeless. City of God… such a title is indicative of a heavenly realm, not the hellish experience that is Rocket’s home. I guess it’s a bit of a theme in itself, the title is. How can we, those who seek to please ourselves and make a place in this world, possibly supercede our own humanity? Is it possible to really make a heaven on Earth? If so what would it look like? I don’t know, unfortunately, because even the most beautiful of pictures is always poisoned by pride or indulgence or pain. The way the protagonist escapes his fate is through a passion for photography and his perusal of the art form. Perhaps heaven on Earth is found through an evaluation of ourselves. Both the positives and negatives, the good and the evil, the soul and the oblivion.

The Dream: —

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As I’ve been prepping for college and deciding what path to take I’ve been posed a question: what is the goal of life? For many it is to fulfill the ‘American dream,’ the upward movement of class and cash. Recently I have been conflicted over the validity of this aspiration, for two people whose works I greatly respect have expressed disagreement with the ethos. In Marilynne Robinson’s novel Housekeeping, the main character runs away from society and becomes a homeless nomad, and this is a good thing. Robinson asserts that the social expectations looming over us are not to be obeyed or feared, they are to be abandoned. As for the significance of wealth, Herman Mellville, in his novel Moby Dick, contends that the system of payment in itself encourages greed, selfishness, and immorality; as the novel’s protagonist states, “The act of paying is perhaps the most uncomfortable infliction that the two orchard thieves entailed upon us.” Though pay is obviously necessary for survival, Mellville makes an interesting point. Perhaps, in the end, it is best to not let money and status dictate one’s life. Perhaps it is best to simply strive to find contentedness in one’s life.

Irrelevant Idealism

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Yesterday my dad asked me which famous person I think I should aspire to be. I had not an answer, for it seems there is a large shortage of idealists in the world. However, I’ve found some comfort in film, where integrity is often created as the binary opposition to evil. In The Dark Knight, Lieutenant James Gordon represents the helpless hero, stating “I don’t get political points for being an idealist, I have to do the best I can with what I have.” Gordon tried in vain to always do the right thing amidst the evils of the Joker, Harvey Dent, and the criminal organizations of Gotham, whereas Batman broke moral guidelines (though he did set standards such as never murdering) to defend the city. Batman himself was a bit of a helpless idealist as, at the end of the film, he gave up his image of integrity to save Gordon from blame, for the city would not be able to separate the idea of Harvey Dent from the two-faced killer he became. In The Grand Budapest Hotel, M. Gustave H. represents the innocent romantic juxtaposed with a world filled with selfishness and malice. The black comedy’s hero, H., tried to do what he saw as morally right while the movie presented oppositions of serial killers, over-zealous policemen, and egotistical aristocrats to H.’s innocence. In the end, though he was able to clear his name, reality took H.’s life, thus leaving his trusty, innocent lobby boy, Zero, depressed and empty and affluent, as H. left the hotel to the immigrant. Despite the difficulties, failures and impediments, both Gordon and H. Solved problems immensely arduous, including combating apathy with idealism. Though they never experienced the fruits of their efforts, they could rest easy knowing they did what many do not: they made a difference in the world.

The Beauty of Life: Memory

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I’m a movie buff. Action, comedy, drama, whatever the genre, I enjoy entering the reality developed by the director. It’s an escape from life, a place where you can learn more about the world by taking a step back and evaluating someone else’s. Or you could just watch it for pleasure provided through excitement and humor. A film about a 6 year old boy growing into an adult, Boyhood, does neither of these things. The film takes place in a world filled with insecurity, mistakes, and hypocrites. This is the world we call reality. Even in films that take place in history like The King’s Speech the protagonist, George VI, experiences a problem a select few, if any, others will: he has to overcome a speech impediment to become king and address his nation as they approach war. Boyhood, on the other hand, deals with the problems such as divorce, talking to girls, and alcoholism, problems that are very real to millions of boys across the nation and the world. The movie is a simple conglomeration of scenes that were pivotal in the development of the main character, Mason. In addition to being groundbreaking filmmaking (the movie was shot over 12 years with the same actors growing up as the movie progressed) the film gives an unprecedented level of characterization. The developmental scenes are the memories Mason has kept as he goes into college. The beauty of this is the real-life implication: the memories we choose to keep are those that change us the most. Every day we make millions of memories, but many of them — what you had for breakfast, which coat you wore, the awkward smile you gave in the hall, etc. — will be quickly forgotten and never affect you again, but the memories you choose to keep change your very being, your very fate. At the end of the movie, the mother states that she “Just thought there would be more” in life. Life can be boring, it can be monotonous, or it can be beautiful, depending on what you do in the time you have and what you choose to appreciate.

An American

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I am 2314. Stuck among a world of numbers and concrete with nothing to stare at but the wonderless, empty void. It’s monotonous. It’s absolute hell. The stars slowly spin out of place as the cold metal walls slowly close in. I bow my head, for I can do no else, hands and feet bound to my own oblivion. When did the honor die? When did screams of adoration turn to terror? The fall. Sometime in October, I think. There was a cry of terror I heard from an isolated facility in Rhode Island Iran. I was in Oregon at the time, dealing with a routine armed robbery, so it took a couple of minutes for me to get there.

“Oh, God!” she screamed, “Somebody help me!”

I swooped in and found an awful sight: the woman was being drowned by several strong men with guns, no doubt the minions of Dr. Maniacal. I broke through the window and took out the grunts — I worked so swiftly that they didn’t even have enough time to turn their heads. My red and white cape fluttered to and fro as I landed my blue gloves of justice squarely in the jaws of the abusers.

“Never fear, miss, I’ll save you!” I exclaimed as I threw the man holding her head under the water out the window I flew in.  The woman looked up at me with a countenance of thanks and horror. It was then I looked down to see the falling man: blood trickling down his face, eyes abundant with surprise, and, on his left breast, an American flag.