Philosophy Friday: Navigating Enlightenment

Enlightenment is such a loaded word, but I think I’ve found a way to navigate it.

Here’s my take on it:

 

Midweek Music Moment: Ndje Yem

As some of you know I spend quite a bit of time listening to the radio, and today’s Midweek Music Moment is the wonderful Blick Bassy.

 

Although Bassy is a French resident these days, he grew up in rural Cameroon and still sings in his traditional Basaa language.

 

120023929-3x7mad4u-img_1522larkclark

Introduced to me from Lark Clark’s wonderful ‘World Spinning’ radio program, I highly recommend this show for exposure to innovative and distinctive world music.

 

‘Ndje Yem’ is from the 2015 album ‘Ako’ by Cameroonian singer, Blick Bassy.

With influences such as Marvin Gaye and Gilberto Gil, Bassy has a rich, soulful voice with a melancholic sweetness.

 

 

And if you loved that, here is the wonderfully atmospheric track ‘Ake’ also from his 2015 album:

 

Movie Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

‘The Time Travelers Wife’ is a 2009 romantic drama based on the smash-hit novel by Audrey Niffenegger.

Starring Eric Bana (Henry) and Rachel McAdams (Clare), the movie tells the story of Henry’s genetic condition (chrono-impairment) which causes him to randomly time travel to significant moments in his life.

 

timetrav3-300x217

Bana and McAdams have great chemistry and warmth on-screen and keep the film from degenerating into a ceaseless tear-jerker.

 

Given the fact that when Henry time travels, his clothes don’t – he certainly seems to take showing up naked pretty well.

As well as the obvious embarrassment, Henry is subject to all kinds of dangers as the result of his involuntary time jumping; including disappearing in the middle of his own wedding, showing up in dangerous situations and even seeing his own death but not knowing the cause of it.

Despite the cool time-travel twist – which will do your head in if you actually try to work it all out logically – this film is really more of a love story than a science fiction.

 

Their life is built around Henry’s chrono-impairment and in some ways is quite regular – and much like it is for any couple living with a chronic illness.

 

Directed by German Director, Robert Schwentke (‘RIPD’, ‘Insurgent’ series), there are whole pieces of time travel logic (e.g. why can’t Henry remember his travels into the future?) which are simply left unanswered – and in some ways perhaps this is better than falling into any kind of truly scientific exploration.

‘The Time Traveler’s Wife’ is certainly an interesting journey but best enjoyed if you can sit back, suspend disbelief and go along for the ride.

Available on Netflix and check out the official trailer here:

 

Being playful

Is being playful important to you or a time waster for fools?

Here’s my thoughts on it!

 

Movie Review: The Queen

‘The Queen’ is an award-winning 2006 British drama that tells the story of the British Royal Family and their response to Princess Diana’s death.

Splendidly played by Helen Mirren, she brings a depth and consideration to Queen Elizabeth that gets underneath her public appearance – and into the complex world of what it must be like to be such a public figure.

 

helen-mirren-queen_2394908b

Helen Mirren won an Oscar for her performance and was even invited to Buckingham Palace by HM Queen Elizabeth herself.

 

In particular ‘The Queen’ is centred around the relationship between a staunchly conservative, HM Queen Elizabeth and the newly-elected populist, Tony Blair.

 

article-1190352-052f1df1000005dc-119_468x354

As HM reminds Tony Blair on his first day in office, ‘You are my tenth prime minister Mr Blair. Winston Churchill was my first’. Lines like these made me realise the lifelong dedication and personal sacrifice she has undertaken in her role as Queen.

 

The film negotiates conflict with a deft and gentle hand from Director, Stephen Frears (‘Philomena’, ‘High Fidelity’).

Although none of us can be sure of what exactly went on during those sad few days after Diana’s passing, Frears gives us a very personal ‘behind the scenes’ take on the royal family.

 

Although the Royal Family feels very much ‘locked down’ I can’t help but wonder if Fears had access to insider knowledge.

 

An intelligent, observant script with a great cast and a solid pace, I highly recommend ‘The Queen’ for those nights when you’re looking for a smart drama with an emotional undercurrent.

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you to check out:

 

The Gift of Responsibility

Welcome to my first ever Friday vlog (video blog)!

Today is the first of a new format that I’m trying out – I plan to post each Friday with a short video on what’s on my mind this week.

 

Midweek Music Moment: The Quiet Crowd

Patrick Watson is one of my favourite Canadian singer-songwriters. An established member of the Montreal music scene, this guy just oozes talent and cool.

Although he might not be topping any mainstream charts anytime soon, he did beat out Arcade Fire for the Polaris Prize with his 2007 album ‘Close to Paradise’.

With his distinctive vocals, innovative instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics: his albums are full of memorable and diverse ballads.

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is this wonderfully atmospheric tune ‘The Quiet Crowd’. Not only does it sound great, but it contains one of my all-time favourite lyrics: ‘Everyone’s got a little wrong in all the right places’

 

 

His 2015 album, “Love Songs for Robots’ has a more produced, lusher sound than his previous work – which doesn’t showcase his vocals as much as his acoustic pieces, but nonetheless has great energy and wonderful atmosphere.

‘Places you’ll go’ is a great example of his latest sound:

 

 

And if you feel like a truly weird art video (inspired by German ballet ‘Das Triadische Ballet’) then here’s a great one to checkout for ‘Love Songs for Robots’:

 

 

Lastly, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention his classical prowess. If you love contemporary, sweeping soundtracks as much as I do, then you’ll want to explore his 2016 ‘9th Life of Louis Drax’ soundtrack.

 

Movie Review: Spy

‘Spy’ is a likeable 2015 comedy that showcases the slapstick talents of comedian, Melissa McCarthy.

A smart and quirky ‘everywoman’ – complete with low self-esteem, wardrobe fails and pie-in-the-sky dreams – Susan (McCarthy) is eager to prove that she’s got what it takes to succeed.

This light-hearted movie follows Susan as she kicks, punches, schmoozes and clevers her way through various dire espionage situations.

 

images

The movie is worth it just for the costume changes alone!

 

With a great ensemble cast that includes Jason Statham, Jude Law, Bobby Cannavale, Rose Byrne and Miranda Hart (‘Chummy’ from ‘Call the Midwife’) the script is silly, playful and easy to enjoy.

 

There are some wonderfully strong female characters in the film, with most of the main relationships being between women.

 

spy-teaser-poster-slice

Despite the comedy leaning there are still some big budget, highly technical stunts and a good dose of international spy glamour.

 

Directed by comedy aficionado, Paul Feig (‘Bridesmaids’, ‘The Heat’, the new ‘Ghostbusters’), this is the film to watch when you’re looking for an uplifting action film with some strong female characters.

 

feig_a

Passionate about strong female roles, Feig said he was aiming to direct a ‘funny Casino Royale’ because it was the closest he would ever get to directing his own Bond film.

 

Available on Netflix and here’s the official trailer for you:

 

Midweek Music Moment: Mozart’s Requiem

Every now and again I’m in the mood for some classical melodrama.

And surely one of the most dramatic and powerful classical pieces is Mozart’s Requiem.

His final masterpiece, it was commissioned in 1791 by an Austrian count as a tribute to the passing of his young wife – but Mozart who was suffering with an undiagnosed illness at the time – came to believe it was his own requiem that he was writing.

 

152550-004-669d4462

c1780, this portrait of Mozart is one of the most popular. He was 24 years old at the time and hadn’t quite made the ‘big time’ yet.

 

Unfortunately Wolfgang’s ‘spidey sense’  was proved right, and he died before he finished the work (there are many theories but we still don’t know exactly what he died of) which was later finished by his understudy.

Today’s Midweek Music Moment is this ‘shorter’ 8 minute version for you to get a feel for the piece. It’s had a whopping 63 Million YouTube views, which is impressive considering the competition.

 

 

And if you’ve got a full hour and interested in the complete piece you can enjoy this intimate performance here:

 

Movie Review: Dr Strange

‘Dr Strange’ is the latest whizz-bang blockbuster in the Marvel universe, and currently dominating North American box office numbers.

Wonderfully played by Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr Strange is an arrogant, self-absorbed neurosurgeon who seeks his own salvation and healing after a life-altering accident.

 

benedict-cumberbatch-dr-strange-splash-news-040416

 

Cumberbatch sizzles on camera, but his star power has been thoughtfully balanced by a truly veteran cast of Mads Mikelsen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Tilda Swinton and Benedict Wong (to name a few).

 

Tilda Swinton’s teachings as The Ancient One, lead Dr Strange to the mystic arts and a multi-dimensional universe.

 

landscape-1469463742-doctor-strange-kaecilius2

Mads Mikelsen acting prowess brings an intelligent, dark character who’s logic is quite convincing at times.

 

Given the stunning visuals created by the joint power houses of Disney and Marvel, this is a slick, new Marvel universe to explore – and I strongly suggest you see it on the biggest screen you can find.

 

The sets are stunning, with much of the movie filmed on location in Nepal.

 

Unfortunately though it’s this same strength that leaves ‘Dr Strange’ feeling a little light on depth. With so much CGI and a lack of character development (in patches), I was left wanting more from this exciting and complex world.

In particular Dr Strange’s arrogance seems justified when realizing that he really doesn’t have to work too hard for anything: including his magical expertise that comes after just a few short months of training.

I highly recommend this film for scifi fans and those who follow the Marvel universe, others will be turned on by the incredible visuals but might ultimately tune out from the somewhat-predictable storyline.

Currently playing on the big screen, here’s the official trailer for you to check out (oh, and make sure you stay for the credits):