Boyhood: A Non-Traditional Movie About Growing up

Greetings all, it has been 6 months (wow, time flies) since my last blog post. I did manage to post a Medium article on student loans and have posted short facebook status updates but haven’t been “writing” as much. I have, however been doing lots of reading, and listening to podcasts, and taking in all of this media has inspired me to get back to blogging. I also came to the realization that I was putting off more blog posts because I was worried that they would suck, and frankly the first ones have and I’m sure the nexgt 5, 10, 20, or 50 will as well, but I will never get better at written communicaiton if I don’t at least give it a shot and so here it goes (again):

Boyhood is an extremely fascinating movie, that is basically about “nothing.” What I mean here is that the movie doesn’t really follow the traditional story arc of background-build up- climas – end. Boyhood is flimed to mimic real life about a boy growing up. This means that there aren’t necessarily traditional build-ups because that’s typically not how problems and events happen in real life. One of the ways you can tell that the movie was intended to be realistic was that it was shot 3 days at a time, over the course of 12 years. Another way is that the director uses many close up camera angles and there typically is not a lot of visual clutter in the scenes to help convery a sense of simplicity.

While the lack of a traditional story arc can be confusing at first, and the ending will most likely frustrate you (spoiler alert: the movie just ends with casual talking), it does make for a great film because it bucks tradition and provides a very intimate look at the life of a boy “Mason” goriwng up in the United States. The film explores what it means to grow up as a boy in American society, specifically touching on the issues of masculinity, alcoholism, identity, and relationships with fathers. The movie brings the first three issues to light by highlighting issues that Mason has with his father and numerous setpfathers. The movie does this through different stepfathers dealing with different issues with Mason. his first stepfather is an alcoholic, the second stepfather confront Mason about his choice of wearing earrings and painting his nails, and eventually we see Mason’s real father mature and change his identity. The movie doesn’t really seem to judge whether Mason’s decisions were right or not. I think that is allows different viewers of the movie to interpret it in different ways, depending on what appeals to them and even how they grew up and think this is one of the reasons the movie is so good.

Overall, I would recommend this movie to anyone who doesn’t mind a movie that bucks a traditional story arc, and that is pretty slow and easy going. The movie itself is a little over 2 hours long and can feel long at times but does a great job of cinematically looking at everyday life of a boy growing up in the United States.

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Why I think that Libertarianism can be the new conservative party

I read a fascinating article the other day over at Vox, where a reporter interviewed a “republican intellectual” Avik Roy who explained why the “the republican party is going to die.” (Link: http://www.vox.com/2016/7/25/12256510/republican-party-trump-avik-roy) In the article, the person being interviewed mentions how he thinks that the two possibilities for the Republican party are that

“Either the disruption will come from the Republican Party representing cranky old white people and a new right-of-center party emerging in its place, or a third party will emerge, à la the Republicans emerging from the Whigs in the [1850s]”

After reading this, a light bulb went off in my head, and the light bulb was saying that the Libertarian Party could be that 3rd party. With presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who is projecting to capture nearly 9% of the popular vote, according to an election forecast by famed political predictor, Nate Silver (http://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/2016-election-forecast/)  already in play, I’d say that the Libertarian Party is already on its way to becoming that 3rd party emerging. Now what actually happens in the election, is of course another story but it is a very promising sign so far. Johnson has recently been polling in the low to mid teens in some polls, which is much better compared to the last presidential election, which Johnson also ran in, where he garnered only around 1% of the popular vote. I think that the higher poll numbers this election are due to the unprecedented unpopularity of the two presidential candidates and especially of the unpopularity of the republican candidate, Donald Trump.

Many Republicans are angry at Trump, not only because of his comments, but because he doesn’t necessarily having the strongest record on being a conservative. As recently as 2004, he told a CNN reporter that he identified as a Democrat (http://www.cnn.com/2015/07/21/politics/donald-trump-election-democrat/). I realize that party affiliations do change over time, as Gary Johnson was a two term Republican governor, and his VP candidate Bill Weld was a two term Republican governor as well. However, I think that switching between two parties that, as of recently, have very different policies is not someone that necessarily believes in their parties ideals.

I think that Libertarianism can be the new conservative party because of the economic principles that the party espouses. According to a recent Gallup poll, three of the top issues that Republicans or republican leaning persons find more important than average are:

  • The federal budget deficit
  • The size and efficiency of the federal government
  • Taxes

Libertarians agree precisely with Republicans on these issues. Both want a smaller deficit, smaller government, and lower taxes.

In the Vox article, Roy mentions:

“I think it’s incredibly important to take stock,” he says, “and build a new conservative movement that is genuinely about individual liberty.”

That, Mr. Roy, is what the Libertarian Party is all about, and why I think that the Libertarian Party can be the conservative movement of the future.

 

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Room Review

Let me start this review saying that I think that Room should win picture of the year at the Oscars. Its probably the most emotionally engaging movie that I have ever seen. The movie has a pretty simple concept, and the story is that a women is abducted and made to live in this guy’s shed for years and years (With a basic kitchen, bed, microwave, etc.) and raises a child. She raises the kid, named Jack, for the first 5 years of his life in this room, until she decides to use Jack to help her escape.

The movie is roughly 2 hours long, but I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Although, the reason I was, was because that I was so emotionally engaged with Jack, i almost felt as if I knew him and could feel what he was going through. This is done through close shots of the characters and fact that the two main characters (the mother and Jack) are the only characters on the screen or the only characters engaging in dialogue for the majority of the movie.

This review is almost tough for me to write, because of the fact that I just used the term “emotionally engaged” in a review, and I am usually not a fan of emotional movies, or chick flicks. However, Room is different. It’s different because I think everyone has a little part of them can relate to Jack. For the most part, he remains optimisitic and easy going throughout the movie, while his mom gets extremely stressed at times. I know lately I’ve been trying to channel my inner Jack when times get tough, because I realize that things could be much worse, I could be trapped in a room for the first five years of my life.

Overall, I would recommend anyone rent this movie and give it a look, you won’t be disappointed.

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The Revenant Review

I’ve been wanting to see the Revenant for awhile now, and finally got the chance to see it last night and it was everything that I had hoped for. Leonardo Dicaprio puts on an amazing performance, the scenery is breathtaking, and overall I would say it was worth the $8 ticket price. (Thankful for student discounts)

One of my friends thinks that Leo took the role in the Revenant primarily so that he could win an Oscar and I might have to agree, because 70% of the movie is Leo out in the wilderness by himself. This is both a positive and a negative. If you’re looking for a movie with an extremely complex plots with lots of twists and turns then the Revenant isn’t for you. However, if you enjoy simpler plots with more of a focus on scenery and character development then this is the movie for you.

The brilliant part about Leo’s acting performance is the fact that he says only a handful of words throughout the entire duration of the movie. Instead, you understand the story through the movements and actions of DiCaprio.

(Spoiler Alert)

The other impressive part of Leo’s acting is the fact that he is seriously injured for most of the film. This means that he struggles moving his body in a normal way and even has to crawl for miles in a few scenes. The injuries are due to him being attacked by a bear, where he does his best to fight it off and then kill it, but is torn up before he manages to hurt the bear. This scene is pretty graphic, but is excellently done with cgi and is done well enoguh that you can almost feel the bear attacking you.

This is another one of my favorite things about the movie. The realistic nature of the scenes, in that you really feel as if you’re stranded in the middle of the forest with the characters of the film. This is done through many wide shots where the character only takes up an extremely small part of the scene and many scenes where you can’t see the character. The scenery is also beautiful with some scenes taking place in luscious green forests, and others taking part in vast snowy mountains.

The only real negatives I saw with the movie were that it was pretty long (2 and a 1/2 hours), and that some of the things that happen to the main character make it seem like he’s invincible (Which I guess is part of the legend/ story that is being told).

Overall I would rate it an 8/10 and would definitely recommend going to see it if you haven’t already!

 

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Making a Murderer Review (Finally Finished!)

I’m sure everyone has heard of, or maybe even seen the new Netflix series “Making a Murderer”. It seems to be all over the internet and many people I’ve talked to have watched it. Now, my girflriend is a big fan of crime shows and series and had heard that the series was good, so I decided that I would give it a shot. Normally, I’m not the biggest crime show guy but I figured I’d give it a try.

I watched the first two episodes within a few days then took a week off and just watched the third episode, with plans to continue the series in the next few days. I’m a horrible binge watcher and it doesn’t help that my girlfriend and I are watching the show together so we both have to commit to watching it..Anyways.. so far the concept of the show is excellent. A guy (Stephen Avery) gets framed for something he didn’t do, and serves 18 years in jail for it before he is exonerated by DNA evidence, then a murder happens that the show makes it seem like Steven was also framed for.

I can say that I do enjoy the show, I think that the reporting is excellent, with interviews from Steven, his family, his legal counsel, other parties in the case, and other experts. However, the show is fairly slow, in that, so far, a handful of pieces of evidence are brought in each show and explained. I also think it was smart of Netflix to set the audience up to believe one thing (That Steven didn’t commit the murder), whereas they may throw a huge curveball in next season that he didn’t do it, or Netflix may decide to let the series end on a cliffhanger.

So the slowness really only continues into the 3rd episode, after that everything starts to get much more intense because you really begin to fully understand the situation and the plot begins to thicken. It moved so quickly that I was hooked and watched episodes 3 – 8 in a matter of a few days.

What got really interesting for me, is that you get to see the inner workings of a court case, from the perspective of both parties and the media. This kept me watching and captivated because I wanted to see what the final verdict was and was interested in how that conculsion was reached.

The show also does focus on the fact that Steven was framed but it does bring in evidence from the other side that explains why it wouldn’t make sense for him to be framed / couldn’t have been possible. In essence, this is what the court case is about and what I think is so interesting, because you can almost gather that he’s going to be convicted early on in the series but he puts up an extremely compelling argument into how and why he was framed.

I finally finished the series and I can say it is pretty fantastic. It took me a week or so to finally finish the last two episodes, and afte letting everything percolate, I can say I think the series is fantastic. Not only the reporting, where it gives you the perspective of the media, and all parties involved in the case. But also the overall theme of the show, which to me, is that if you don’t have enough money or intelligence, the justice system can frame you and get away with it.

This theme is powerful and I can see why the show is so popular, because of the unpopularity of police in the US at this time. Anyways, thanks if you’ve actually been following this review, as it took me a little over a month to finish this show, even if you read this review, I still think you should check out the show.

 

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Being Compassionate is Hard

I’ve always been interested in decision making and the science behind it, specifically the reasoning behind people making certain choices. I’m not really sure why I’m interested in it. (Ironically enough, I’m sure if I looked deep enough into it, there’s some subconscious reason or other reason that I’m not thinking about) and in reading about decision making, one of the larger themes that I’ve seen is that people are lazy, they generally do what is easiest for them, which makes sense, because who would intentionally do something that make things hard on themselves?

Where compassion comes into this, is that generally the easiest thing to do is blame shortfalls on others, or incorrectly guess a reason behind someone else’s actions. This means that being negative is easy, blaming problems on others is easy, but taking accountability for our actions is hard. It’s hard because people generally think of themselves as infallible and would rather attribute negative events to others. It also is easier to assume that someone else is making an action that you wouldn’t make and their reasoning behind the action is something that fits your story of the person doing something wrong.

For example, “That guy just cut me off, because he is an asshole.” In order to make yourself feel better, you are assuming the guy cut you off because he is a bad person, or at least not as good of a person as you are. While this explanation might make you feel good in the short run, if you start looking at yourself more, you may realize that you aren’t perfect or the best person ever, and this is a tough realization.

The more that I type this out, the more I realize that I am talking about myself. Recently my mindfulness practice has had me taking a deeper longer look at myself, and it has been tough because I am slowly realizing that I am not the person I thought I was. While this realization has shocked my system, and caused me to project negative feelings on others, now that I’m writing it out, I actually do feel much better about myself.

So while being mindful may lead to more happiness in the long run, I think that it has been tough on me in the short run, because being compassionate is hard. I am attempting to live my life more compassionate but it is much harder than living life with negativity.

 

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Yeezus review and New Years Resolutions

Well, the following will be a quick review of Kanye West’s most recent album, Yeezus. I realize the album came out a few years but I’ve just started listening to lots of Kanye and I think this album a fantastic album and should be my first review of many rap albums (and I will be reviewing Kanye’s older albums as well).

Let me first say that I had to attempt to listen to Yeezus a few times before I sat down and listened to the full album from top to bottom. I think that can be attributed to Kanye’s desire to create something extremely original and out of the ordinary.

Overall, I think this originality is what makes the album so great. Kanye uses sampling throughout the album (In what seems like all the right places, and I’m biased because I love when rappers can sample older music and blend it in with modern tunes) and yet also creates what seems like entirely new sounds with his use of the synthesizer and other live instruments. Needless to say, I think production is a real strong suit of this album, not to take anything away from Kanye’s lyricism but I think production is one of the elements that make this a truly outstanding album.

Kanye’s lyricism is great because of the way he flows his rhymes with beats, and also because he manages to rap on wildly different subject matter (from rapping about “New Slaves” to rapping about getting laid in “I’m in it”). He also manages to string together sentences in quick secession and sentences that you can understand (he manages to straddle the line between rapid fire machine gun like verses where you can barely understand the words, and slow melodic rapping).

Overall I’d give the album a 9/10 and think it is one of Kanye’s best albums to date, and I look forward to seeing what Kanye has in store for his next album. Hope you enjoyed my first album review!

Now, as far as my life goes, I attended a hot yoga class today and it was fantastic. Doing more yoga has been a part of my new years resolution and so far I’ve been to 3 classes in the past 3 weeks (I started my resolutions early) and I already feel much more flexible and in tune with my body. I think that becoming more in tune with my body will help me become more mindful. This is another part of my resolution and means that I’ll be focusing more on how I feel and how my body feels and yoga has definitely helped with thise goals so far. I also think that this mindfullness will help with eating healthy and maintaining healthy attitudes in other aspects of my life. Thanks again for reading if you made it all the way to the end, I originally only intended a short blurb after the album review but everything was flowing.

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