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:

 

Movie Review: Fantastic beasts and where to find them

‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ is the latest magical action film in the Harry Potter series.

Based on the 2001 J.K.Rowling novel of the same name – the book is written as Harry Potter’s textbook on the study of ‘magizoology’.

 

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‘Fantastic Beasts’ is one of Harry’s first year books for Hogwarts.

 

However unlike Harry Potter’s typically-British setting, the film is set in glamorous, beautiful 1920s New York.

 

The film features stunning visuals, great costumes, plenty of magical beasts and of course, a plethora of special effects.

 

Although Eddie Redmayne takes the lead as the introverted, bumbling Newt Scamander – he is supported by a solid ensemble cast that includes Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Jon Voigt, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton and innocent-bystander-muggle, Jacob Kowalski.

 

Eddie Redmayne spends much of the movie shyly delivering his lines to the feet of those around him, yet truly comes into his own as the gentle caretaker of his magical creatures.

 

Built by a regular creative Potter team that includes screenplay by J.K.Rowling, Director David Yates and Designer Stuart Craig ‘Fantastic Beasts and where to find them’ will certainly please Harry Potter fans – and entertain new ones.

With a timely underbelly that shows a society divided and the resulting persecution of minorities – in true Harry Potter fashion – the film brings some depth to what could have simply been a mindless couple of hours.

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

 

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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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: