Movie Review: Deja Vu

‘Deja Vu’ is a 2006 big-budget blockbuster set in New Orleans – with a science fiction spin.

Starring Denzel Washington as his charming, complicated finest, he plays lonely government agent (Douglas Carlin) who’s out to solve a horrendous act of terrorism.

 

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Val Kilmer and Adam Goldberg hold their own against another superb performance from Denzel Washington.

 

In the midst of his investigation he falls for one of the victims; the beautiful Claire Kuchever (Paula Patton).

When the time travel action shows up partway through the film, it’s all in ‘the name of the investigation’ but it gets more than a little creepy as Carlin watches her in her apartment in the days leading up to her death.

 

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Paula Patton gives a somewhat bland performance, but to be fair – she spends much of the film dead and didn’t exactly have a lot to work with.

 

Jim Caviezel is surprisingly credible as a self-righteous, loner terrorist.

 

Directed by Tony Scott, ‘Deja Vu’ has all of his typical markers – frenetic camera style, intense action scenes, sharp editing, stripped down dialogue and ‘on the right side of dumb’ as I read recently.

Denzel fans (like myself) won’t be disappointed, and though it’s no ‘Man on Fire’, this is a great middle-of -the-road action film with a time travel twist.

Check out the official trailer here:

 

Philosophy Friday: Life is not an Emergency

What a freedom to finally realise that life is not an emergency!

Here’s how it’s rocked my world:

 

Midweek Music Moment: Fire in Freetown

K’Naan is a Somali-Canadian musician who rose to sharp fame when his song ‘ Wavin the Flag’ was chosen as Coca Cola’s theme for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

After it’s FIFA bombardment, I can no long listen to that song – but today’s Midweek Music Moment is one of my favourites from him, ‘Fire in Freetown’ from his 2009 album ‘Troubadour’.

 

 

With his distinctive blend of conscious hip-hop, Bob Marley type-rhythms and protest poetry, K’Naan has firmly established himself in the Canadian music scene: including winning 2010 Juno for Artist of the Year, Songwriter of the Year and a 2011 Juno for Song of the Year.

This second track ‘Take a Minute’ is also from his 2009 album ‘ Troubadour’ – which I prefer to his newer, more hip-hop style of music.

 

Movie Review: The African Doctor

‘The African Doctor’ is a 2016 French comedy-drama (French title: ‘Bienvenue à Marly-Gomont’) with an upbeat love-conquers-all message.

With a superb performance from Belgian actor, Marc Zinga (Seyolo Zantoko) this film tells the true story of a Congolese doctor who moves to a small, conservative village in the north of France who have never seen African people before.

 

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The endearing cast brings heart and soul to the film and helped to make it a European box office hit.

 

Faced with the villagers fear, suspicion and xenophobia, Dr Zantoko manages to ride the highs and lows of winning their trust, all the while struggling to keep his family together in a difficult and foreign country.

 

The storyline is somewhat predictable but elevated by the excellent performances and a great soundtrack.

 

Directed by Julien Rambaldi, ‘The African Doctor’ has a similar feel to French film ‘The Intouchables’ – also a true story (and recent box office hit) with a dark underbelly.

 

This is my first film from Julien Rambaldi, although he is also known for ‘Les Meilleurs Amis Du Monde’ (2010) and ‘Scotch’ (2003).

 

‘The African Doctor’ is in French with English subtitles and currently available on Netflix.

Check out the official trailer here:

 

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: