Philosophy Friday: Connection Project

My 2017 Connection Project is to build deeper connections with my wider community of people all over the world.

Here’s how I’m going about it!

 

Midweek Music Moment: Manju Nihar (a Tamil folk song)

‘Autorickshaw’ are a Canadian World Music ensemble noted for their richly-layered combination of contemporary jazz, funk and folk with the classical and popular music of India.

Nominated for JUNO’s (Canada’s top music award) in 2004 and 2007 for World Music Album of the Year, I was entranced on the radio recently by their lush, trance-like ‘Manju Nihar’.

A Tamil folk song from the late 1880’s, ‘Manju Nihar’ is from Autorickshaw’s 2007 album ‘So the Journey Goes’

 

 

And if that’s got you in the mood to dive in to some world music and get your feet moving to some Qawwali (devotional music of the sufi’s), then check out ‘Jhoole Jhoole Laal Dam Mast Qalandar’ from the world-renowned Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

 

Movie Review: Rogue One

‘Star Wars: Rogue One’ is the first of Disney’s ‘standalone’ films with fans racing to the cinema to ensure a record opening weekend of $155 Million.

Complete with an entirely new set of feisty, diverse characters, great script writing and plenty of action, it takes place immediately before ‘Episode IV: A New Hope’ (i.e. the original) as the rebel spies plot to steal the Death Star’s engineering plans.

 

Disney purchased lucasfilm in 2012 for a whopping $4Billion, giving them all creative rights to the franchise. ‘Star Wars land ‘ is currently under construction at Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood studios.

 

The film features a wonderful ensemble cast that respects the Star Wars tradition of combining little-known actors with veterans.

Newcomer Felicity Jones (as energetic and soldier-tough Fyn Erso), heads up a misfit gang that includes Diego Luna, Madds Mikelsen, Donnie Yen and Forest Whittaker. And also a notable mention must be made of super-evil, ambitious bad guy, Ben Mendelsohn.

 

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With established actors (and martial artists) from Mexico and China forming a significant part of the ensemble, this is the most diverse Star Wars cast ever.

 

Directed by Gareth Edwards (2014’s ‘Godzilla’), it’s no secret that ‘Rogue One’ underwent extensive reshoots to tighten up the story- and change the original ending.

 

Given that this included further character development and adding some ‘human touch’ to the action scenes, I’m certainly pleased they did.

 

Heavily reliant on CGI and digital artistry of all shapes and sizes, the movie certainly looks amazing – but lost some of the deeper emotive appeal of ‘The Force Awakens’.

An amazing film, but definitely one for the big screen – I highly recommend this movie for an action adventure film that will blow your socks off and scratch your Star Wars ‘itch’.

Still playing first-run theatres and you can check out the official trailer here:

 

Philosophy Friday: A morning routine

It’s taken me months of persistence, but I finally established a morning routine in 2016.

Do you have one and what does it involve? How about before bed?

Here’s what I aim for in my morning routine!

 

Midweek Music Moment: This Bitter Earth – On the Nature of Daylight

A fan of German-born, British composer Max Richter, I first discovered him through his groundbreaking 2012 ‘Vivaldi- Four Seasons Revisited’ album.

Lately I have become particularly enamoured with his piece ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ which was introduced to me through the ‘Arrival’ soundtrack. (Although it has also been heard on multiple soundtracks including ‘Stranger than Fiction’, ‘The Face of an Angel’ and ‘Shutter Island’).

 

Originally published on his ‘The Blue Notebooks’ album in 2003. The album was a protest album about Iraq – the violence that he had personally experienced as a child, the violence of war, and the utter futility of so much armed conflict.

 

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is the sublime pairing of Dinah Washington’s 1960 hit ‘This Bitter Earth’ with Richter’s soaring ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ (produced in 2010 for the ‘Shutter Island’ soundtrack).

The video has no visuals, so grab a cup of tea, close your eyes and listen to this powerful and emotional piece of music.

 

 

And if you enjoyed the weeping violins from Richter, here’s the beautiful ‘Embers’ from his 2002 debut album ‘MemoryHouse’.

 

 

Movie Review: Arrival

‘Arrival’ is an intelligent, multi-layered scifi that makes one of my top 5 films for 2016.

Superbly directed by Denis Villeneuve (‘Sicario’, ‘Prisoners’), the scifi setting runs in parallel to a thoughtful commentary on love, memory and the nature of human suffering.

 

Villeneuve is currently in post-production for the upcoming ‘Bladerunner 2049’ – set 30 years after the original – and starring Ryan Gosling.

 

In a confident and stirring performance, Amy Adams shines as Louise – a talented yet haunted linguist brought in to make first contact with an alien race.

 

With stunning cinematography by Bradford Young (‘Selma’, ‘A Most Violent Year’), the film has a visual lushness that ties the emotional and visual aspects together – and I highly recommend seeing it on the big screen.

 

Although ‘Arrival’ is truly Louise’s story, Adams is well-supported by a great ensemble cast that includes science geek Ian (Jeremy Renner) and get-er-done Colonel Weber (Forest Whittaker).

 

Whittaker’s attempt to maintain military control over a ‘world gone mad’ feels very relatable and timely in the current US political climate.

 

One of the most distinctive elements of ‘Arrival’ is the moving, melodic soundtrack from Icelandic composer Johann Johannson (‘The Theory of Everything’, ‘Sicario’, ‘Prisoners’).

Similar to other contemplative films in the scifi genre such as ‘Gravity’, ‘The Martian’ and ‘Interstellar’, ‘Arrival’ has created a sense of flow between it’s elements that serve the story – rather than individually clashing for the audience’s attention.

I’m thrilled by this new scifi trend coming out of Hollywood and look forward to Villeneuve’s 2017 ‘Bladerunner 2049’.

So do yourself a favour and don’t miss this one!

Currently playing theatres and you can check out the official trailer here:

 

Philosophy Friday: Emotional versus Logical Choices

Emotions can be a great guide, but not for a lot of day to day decisions.

Here’s my take on it:

 

Midweek Music Moment: John Williams

In preparation (and somewhat excitement) for the new Star Wars release this week, today’s Midweek Music Moment is the stunning Star Wars opening theme from John Williams.

Distinct, bold and highly memorable – this ground-breaking symphonic score heralded the revival of sweeping, orchestral movie scores in the late 1970s.

So sit back, grab a cup of tea and enjoy this grand score:

 

 

Although John Williams may be best known for the Star Wars movies – he is also a highly acclaimed classical and chamber music composer and has been nominated for over 50 Academy Awards – winning 5 (‘Fiddler on the Roof’, ‘Jaws’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘E.T’., ‘Schindler’s List’).

 

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With 50 nominations, John Williams holds the record for the most Academy Award (Oscar) nominations.

 

And it’s really not surprise considering that he is responsible for some of the most memorable movie scores in recent history, such as ‘Superman’, ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, ‘E.T.’, ‘Indiana Jones’, ‘Angela’s Ashes’ and ‘The Book Thief’.

And here’s a newer piece from John Williams that you may not know from ‘The Book Thief’.

 

 

And finally, it would be remiss of me not to include the official trailer for ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’.

It looks like another strong female lead in Felicity Jones, plus Mads Mikkelsen and Donnie Yen. To put it mildly, I just can’t wait to see this film!

 

Movie Review: Shaolin

‘Shaolin’ is a 2011 Chinese martial arts film built on the simple story of a violent man who finds redemption at the Shaolin temple.

Quite a change from your typical kung fu movie, ‘Shaolin’ only has a few (but beautifully choreographed) action scenes, and is more of a story about a man finding peace than it is about fighting.

 

Set around the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, the ‘movie temple’ was actually built in Zhejiang and cost 10 million yuan (US$1.47 million) to avoid damaging the actual temple.

 

Featuring Andy Lau in a focused and energetic performance as warlord Hou Jie, his character development arc is the true focus of the film, and adds depth to a somewhat predictable storyline.

 

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One of Hong Kong’s most commercially successful actors, Andy Lau has been able to maintain a highly successful singing career at the same time.

 

There are also a number of notable performances from Nicholas Tse (Cao Man), Fan Bingbing (Yan Xi) – as well as a small role for Jackie Chan who lights up the screen as a wonderfully warm ‘cook’.

 

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It’s great to see Jackie Chan playing a lighter character, and you can tell he had a lot of fun doing it.

 

Although this is by no means a remarkable film in the kung fu genre, I recommend ‘Shaolin’ simply on the basis of it’s conviction, thoughtfulness and skill.

 

There is a well-rounded sense of Shaolin life in the film; from buddhist philosophy to kung fu to meditation and the pursuit of enlightenment.

 

Kids warning: There is not a lot of violence in the film, but I will give it a violence warning for it’s level of ‘graphicness’.

Subtitled in English and available on Netflix, here’s the official trailer for you to check out:

 

Philosophy Friday: Being Responsive

Surely being responsive is love in action?

Here’s my take on it: