While Waiting for the Movie to Start

My beautiful picture

Painted red and white,

Stone’s throw from ticket window,

Lo, moviegoers.

© 2016

Rider

My beautiful picture

Two bikes, one rider,

Equilibrium at work,

One for your brother?

© 2016

Contra

My beautiful picture

I walked in clueless,

Looking for Space Invaders,

Finding only slots.

© 2016

Cobblestone

My beautiful picture

Wasted nicotine,

Bare tobacco filaments,

Snuffed out concretely.

© 2016

Wishes

My beautiful picture

Girl by the fountain,

Makes wishes for the new year,

Penny for her thoughts.

© 2016

Merry

My beautiful picture

Christmas perusing…

Made merrier together,

Camera and I.

© 2015

The Fun Is Back in ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’

Yoda Shirt

Finally!  After months of all of the promotion surrounding Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens, it is here.  A chance for all lovers of the Force and haters of the dark side, or vice versa depending upon where your sympathies lie, to throw themselves right back into the most celebrated galactic conflict in cinema history.  The Force Awakens begins with resistance fighter pilot Poe Dameron (Oscar Isaac) and Lor San Tekka (Max Von Sydow) under siege on planet Jakku. The First Order, which is the name given to a ruthless military organization whose tactics are similar to the Galactic Empire’s under the villainous reign of Darth Vader, has invaded Jakku to locate a map.  But not just any map.  It is a map that will lead them to the secret dwelling place of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill).  Luke vanished years ago after helping to defeat the evil Galactic Empire. The map is hidden within a droid named BB-8.  With it, the First Order can reach their ultimate goal which is to kill Luke Skywalker, the most famous Jedi that ever lived.

When First Order Commander Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) captures Poe Dameron, an order is given to kill all of the villagers.  The stormtroopers open fire on the unarmed crowd.  But one stormtrooper refuses to follow the order.  His name is Stormtrooper FN-2187 (John Boyega) or Finn for short.  BB-8 escapes the clutches of the First Order stormtroopers.  He keeps the map given to him by his master Poe Dameron stored in his memory.  Although this information is discovered by Kylo Ren during his interrogation of Poe Dameron, BB-8 successfully finds a new temporary master named Rey (Daisy Ridley) who is a poor inhabitant of Jakku.

Finn intercepts Poe Dameron after Kylo Ren learns the location of the map from him, and colludes with Poe to defect from the First Order. Together they commandeer a First Order TIE fighter ship and escape.  In flight their fighter ship is shot down and they crash back onto Jakku where Finn eventually finds Rey and BB-8.  When Kylo Ren orders his forces to go back to Jakku and retrieve BB-8, the newly formed resistance trio flees in the famed Millennium Falcon.  The Millennium Falcon’s rightful owner Han Solo (Harrison Ford) soon locates his ship with Finn, Rey and BB-8 on it.  He and his furry co-pilot Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) retake command of the Falcon.  If the resistance has any chance of fending off the First Order’s plan of galactic domination, it will take the efforts of everyone aboard the Falcon.  A little help from the Force wouldn’t hurt either.

Storm Trooper

If you go to see The Force Awakens, do yourself a favor and see it in 3D.  It is well worth the extra few dollars to see this ultra vivid world that J.J. Abrams has conceived-lush, verdant forests, arid desserts, snow capped mountainous terrains and cavernous space stations.

The hollowed base of the First Order, which is of a planetary scale, is so much more so than the Galactic Empire’s death star.  If such hollowness directly corresponds to the soul of its operators, then the galaxy is in trouble.  The Third Reich, Al-Qaeda, and ISIS combined have nothing on the First Order.  These are really bad dudes.  Really bad!  And their leader is the biggest “badest” dude ever. His name is Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis) and whenever he is summoned, or doing the summoning, he is a monstrously imposing figure.  In those scenes where Snoke’s hologram is consulted, the cinematography leaps off of the screen with a gorgeous shower of light in a space mostly draped in a black pall.

Everything feels familiar with this seventh episode of Star Wars.  The fun is back. The Millennium Falcon’s junky hull is back along with Han Solo and Chewy.  R2-D2 is back and still annoying the hell out of C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) with his insolent chirping.  Princess Leia, I mean, General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) is back and still giving Han hell over his detached narcissistic patronizing ways.  And Luke Skywalker is back.  Finally!  Sort of.

Star Wars

© 2015

“Snowmance”

My beautiful picture

Two blankets for us,

Resting on chairs, unwrinkled…

Save a seat for you?

© 2015

White

My beautiful picture

Alone in the snow,

Dear jaundiced fire hydrant,

Ah, la vie en blanc.

© 2015

 

Is ‘Creed’ the New ‘Rocky’?

B1

Creed, directed by Ryan Coogler, is the 7th film in the Rocky saga, which over nearly four decades has chronicled the arduous journey of Rocky Balboa, the Italian Stallion.  This saga traverses through the mean streets of Philadelphia, extends to the hard hitting gyms of Los Angeles, across time and the ocean to what was once known as the Soviet Union and back again. For those of you who have never seen a Rocky film, you may be asking yourself if it is a prerequisite.  The answer is no.  Well, not necessarily.  You can walk into a theater today, buy a ticket for Creed, a box of popcorn or a pack of Twizzlers, and enjoy all 133 minutes of the movie without knowing who Apollo Creed AKA the Master of Disaster, AKA the King of Sting, AKA the Count of Monte Fisto ever was.  But it would help if you did your homework.

Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) is the son of Apollo Creed, who was once the most popular heavy weight boxing champion of the world.    We first meet Adonis, or Donnie as he prefers to be called, in a juvenile detention center.  Donnie has to be pulled off of another youth who insulted his deceased mother and invoked his wrath.  He pummels this larger boy with all of the rage he has inside of him and right away we see, misdirected as it may be, that Donnie has the spirit and heart of a fighter within him.  Mary Anne Creed (Phylicia Rashad) pays a visit to Donnie in his cell and befriends him.  She tells Donnie that she was the wife of Apollo Creed and offers to let him live with her.

Over the next twenty years, Donnie lives with Mary Anne and eventually immerses himself into the underground boxing world of Tijuana, Mexico. He fights 15 times and has an undefeated record.  But fighting is his night job.  During the day he works at a financial institution where he is newly promoted.  He promptly resigns and informs Mary Anne that he plans to pursue boxing fulltime.  She is horrified at the thought of him following in his father’s footsteps.  Despite her objections which include a torrent of bad memories she recalls of Apollo being nursed back to health fight after fight, and ultimately dying in the ring, Donnie leaves the Creed compound in search of realizing his destiny as a prizefighter.

Donnie’s first stop is Delphi Boxing Academy in Los Angeles.  We see his father’s portrait venerably on display.  This is hallowed ground, perhaps not far from where Apollo trained at Tough Gym to become one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time.  Tough Gym is where he led Rocky to redemption after having lost the championship belt to Clubber Lang when Mickey died.  It’s where a fighter goes to get what Apollo famously dubbed the “Eye of the Tiger.”  Delphi Boxing Academy is being managed by Tony “Little Duke” Burton (Wood Harris).  Tony is unwilling to train Donnie, writing him off as an amateur in a world where real boxers have to fight in order to survive.  Undaunted, Donnie climbs into the ring and challenges any fighter to spar with him.  He puts the keys to his new Mustang up as collateral wagering it for a chance to be trained at Delphi.  If any fighter can land a glove on him he’ll surrender the keys.  Tony watches on.  Donnie ducks the first few punches of a game challenger and knocks him out with a wicked counter punch.  He roars in defiance of Tony’s refusal to take him seriously as a fighter.  But Donnie’s bravado is ultimately silenced by Danny “Stuntman” Wheeler (Andre Ward), Delphi’s best boxer and heavy weight contender, moments after Donnie’s short lived victory.  Next stop: Philadelphia, PA.

Donnie tracks down Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) at his restaurant Adrian’s.  Donnie asks Rocky to train him.  “I don’t do that stuff anymore,” Rocky says.  Donnie starts to recant stories of Apollo, details only Rocky would know.  Donnie tells Rocky he knows about the secret third fight they had after Apollo successfully trained Rocky to regain his championship belt.  He asks Rocky who won that third fight.  “It’s sort of a secret” Rocky says, impressed that Donnie knows these things but not yet sure of how.  Then it dawns on Rocky, as he studies the young man in front of him that only someone in Apollo’s inner circle could know such things. “What are you like a cousin or something?” he asks.  Donnie then tells Rocky that he is the son of Apollo Creed.

If Creed is to stand on its own, it must get out of the duel shadow of both the legend of Apollo Creed (as the progeny of any sports legend must ultimately do) and the legacy of Rocky.  This shadow includes 6 previous films, an academy award (Rocky was nominated for 10 Oscars and won for Best Picture in 1976), a score by Bill Conti which is synonymous with victory and routinely played in professional sports stadiums, and an enduring folklore which continues to champion the underdog in society. Can Creed do this?  Well, it would be unrealistic to expect this from a 7th installment of a saga.  Yet Creed has what it takes to merit its own successive sequels.

Where Creed may be lacking is in the antagonist department.  Rocky tells Donnie that his biggest opponent and challenge he’ll ever face in the ring is the one he sees in the mirror.  While Donnie’s repressed emotion at the loss of his parents certainly presents a formidable obstacle in his rise to become a champion in this movie, will that be enough of a rival to keep us interested?  After all, Rocky had Apollo to contend with and partner with for 4 movies.  I, nor any other paying moviegoer I would venture, am interested in seeing Adonis Creed fight himself in and out of the ring for 3 more movies.  Adonis will need a larger than life opponent to push him to excel to greatness, just as Apollo pushed Rocky to the limit, to the boundaries of that place that all would-be champions must go to prove to themselves that they are worthy of that pinnacle.

That being said, Creed certainly is a juicy, mouthwatering, appetizer and what I hope turns out to be the first of several more Creed plots.  And oh yeah, maybe it’s time we retire, as great as it is, Rocky’s theme music.  Adonis will need his own anthem if he is to become the cultural hero that Rocky has become.  Questlove, got anything?

My beautiful picture

© 2015