Lesser Known…

August 6 will mark the 70th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb upon Hiroshima and on the 9th the dropping on Nagasaki. This is marked with A-Bomb day and with a peace festival in Hiroshima. It is held at the Peace Memorial Park and at the ceremony victims are consoled and they pray for the realization of lasting world peace. I’m not sure if there are any victims of the bombings still alive today but in 1986 there was a documentary about the Hibakusha, those exposed to the either of the atomic bombs.If you have some time over this week it is an interesting subject and it’s a part that we typically forget about.

Porziuncola: This feast is celebrated August 2, and might as well be considered the high feast in the Franciscian year at it marks the first building that St. Francis rebuilt after he heard a voice telling him to rebuild my church.

Sithney: This is a great story not much is really known about Sithbey but was in Brittany(Brenton). According to one legend God asked Sithney what he wanted to be Patron Saint of and the Lord suggested being patron saint of girls seeking husbands, but Sithney said he would rather be the patron saint of mad dogs and get some rest. So it came to pass.

Young Nuns, youth and religious life

I stumbled on a documentary on YouTube about Young Nuns in Britain and it reminded me about that Lifetime “docu-series” The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns which was on last fall. Both of these are interesting looks at the religious life, which is a splendid idea as there aren’t many people who really know what the religious sisters do. The closest that most of us get to Nuns is The Sound Of Music and we hear bits Nuns in education or healthcare but that’s about it. There has been an increase of individuals that are going into vocations. If you have some time watch this or the thing from Lifetime I found them both to be very informative of what some individuals are doing and that there is a strong desire among  some of the younger “JPII Generation” to go into religious life, so there is some hope for the future as there are more people actually interested in their faith.

Hot Girls Wanted (2015), Sexy Baby (2012) and Pornography

Hot Girls Wanted is a very interesting film about four girls who wanted to make a name for themselves by doing porn. It’s an unique look at the other side of the industry since the closest many of us get is watching something pornographic. This looks at people trying to break into the business as they respond to a Craigslist ad about a free trip to like Miami and that’s how it begins. But this is not the best of places for people to retreat to as the girls don’t make much and although they are trying to run escape from something. Although girls do get free trips to Miami and other places their lives aren’t the greatest, the film focuses on those girls who just have entered the industry but they have no real say as to what they have to do. For many this included abuse porn scenes where they are bound and gagged and forced to take a dick down their throat until they throw up. Then there is all the verbal abuse as well. It’s not like it’s that surprising but most people just see the edited end results, and don’t care about the woman behind the scenes. Sure there is the general motherly concerns of a young woman heading to porn hoping to make a quick dollar as it turns out that it really isn’t worth it unless they get the interest of some larger porn agent.

Hot Girls Wanted comes from the people who made Sexy Baby back in 2012 which explored sexiness in the digital age, by looking at three individuals Nichole (Nikita Kash) an 32 year old ex adult film star, Winnifred a 12 year old and Laura a 22 year old who want to have a labia reduction surgery so that it look more like those of porn stars. This is an intriguing look at what is considered sexy and how some it effects people of various ages. With the over saturation of “sexiness” in society today the most interesting part was Winnifred as she is the individual that all this sexiness is directed toward and she is a feminist who wants to dress like Lady Gaga and post provocative pictures on Facebook. Nichole wants to start a family and she is trying to get away from porn but she has a pole dancing class which she teaches which has attracted many women to come and learn how to become”more sexy” for their partners. Laura’s story is the weirdest as her boyfriend it seems is that one who really wants the labia reduction to happen. i get that Laura thinks that having her labia all neat like those in porn is a cheaper alternative to getting like a boob job and it still has to effect of making her feel better about her body. With so much “amateur” pornographic images and videos available on the internet will this change the way that we look at the female body and what will titillate us in the future.

Rashida Jones is one of the producers of Hot Girls Wanted and has spoken out about the Pornification of Pop Culture, as it seems everything that happens we have less and less clothing on artist and it seems like most films and tv shows are showing more skin as well. In this Glamour piece she laments that now “every pop star interprets “sexy” the same way: lots of skin, lots of licking of teeth, lots of bending over.” Rashida finds this boring and she took to twitter to voice her dismay at what accounts for Pop Culture today and many people took to Rashida that she was slut shaming. Over on Shameless Popery they have a piece about Pornography looking at some of the lie of Porn. If you have some time to watch the films and read these two articles you will begins to look at pornography through a different lens. This is only the first step but hopefully something can be done to reverse the pornification of our culture.

Stripped (2014)

This weekend I watched an interesting documentary on Netflix called Stripped which is about comic strips, those things in the newspaper. In the documentary it talks about the state of the newspaper comic strip as well as a history of the comic strip and it gives an overview on how syndicates work. The movie talks about how some people are saying this is the golden age of comics as there are so many people who are making comics and the subject matter is so wide so these early digital comics. Sure it talks about newspapers but the prognosis that the creator of comics have isn’t that grim they say that in the future major cities might only have a newspaper but we need to look at the radio as everyone’s got a radio and it is anything but dead. They believe that newspaper might only be online but the newspaper won’t be going anywhere.

The film talks to a wide variety of comic creators both in papers and online. This list includes some of the old guard like Mort Walker of Beetle Bailey as well as some of the online creators like the guys from Penny Arcade and Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant. I thought it was a cool little documentary as I never really understood how comic syndicates like King Features Syndicate or Uclick worked and they have a section in the film about it.  The one thing that it could of had more of was a bit more of the history of comics and how Little Nemo and other early strips were full pages and in color while today the comics are pitifully smaller. If you like any of the comics in the newspaper it is worth the time to watch this film.

Chef’s Table

So Netflix has a new series about chefs and it is a bit like Mind of a Chef but a bit different. In David Gleb’s series each episode focuses on a different chef and tries summarize who they are in an hour.  The episode seems to look at what made them a chef and how they got to where they are today.  They are sort of like Jiro Dreams of Sushi but shorter and some have said are lacking. It’s a fun show to watch with the food porn but it doesn’t go as far as something like Mind of a Chef where  you really get to know the chefs involved and perhaps learn a recipe as well.

Hopefully this is the only the beginning of Chef’s table and they look at other chef around the world in more seasons like Alice Waters or Jose Andres. If you are a foodie this is a must watch and it’s mostly enjoyable and gives you a chance to see some wonderful dishes that you might not get a chance to eat in your lifetime like Massimo Bottura’s dishes in Italy.  It is a fun and short documentary to watch but the only problem that can happen is that you get hungry watching some of these interesting dishes being made and presented.

Of Miracles And Men

Once again ESPN has had a wonderful film featured it it’s 30 for 30 series. This has become one of my favorite programs that ESPN has aired recently. It is sports documentaries and the latest one is unique as it tells the story of the Miracle of Ice from the Soviet\Russian perspective and looks at the formation of a Soviet hockey team and the dominance that they had. Winning nearly every world tournament between 1954 and 1991.

The story of Russian Hockey begins with Anatoli Tarasov who told that he should start a hockey team so that the Soviets could compete in the Olympics as the traditional Russian winter sport of Bandy was played by like four teams and all were in Russia. Tarasov had rule books and that was about it as he tried to figure out what hockey was, the government didn’t want him to be copying the Canadian style of playing so he didn’t have any tapes of games. So the Russian style of hockey is developed and Tarasov is considered the father of Russian hockey. As the team developed they worked throughout the year even training in the summer on dirt instead of ice. It then really glosses over the success that they had from until Victor Tikhonov took over. Tikhonov was a more calculated coach everything had a schedule and was more of a dictatorial leader as compared to Tarasov who was someone, at least according to the film, who had heart and cared for the players.

Then we turn to the 1980 Olympics, and that game that everyone makes a big deal about in America. The Miracle on Ice was a close game and we hear the Russian broadcast and news coverage of the event and it was simply “Our team played a close game and lost, good night.” The film also brings in the player element we have most of the players being interviewed and we see Slava Fetisov bringing his daughter up to Lake Placid to see the arena. After the Lake Placid Olympics the film diverts and talks about how players wanted to start trying their luck in the NHL, as they were being drafted since the 70s but nothing really came of this Fetisov is who we see this struggle through. Since the Soviet National Team was a military team and all the members were part of the army and were under contract for like 20 years or something. So there was no way for the Soviets to join the NHL at any point.

This was a very educational film and if you are a fan of hockey it is a must watch. I was interested in seeing one of the greatest hockey stories in the United States from another point of view, but it was more than simply about the 1980 Olympics. It tied in history and politics as well as we see the struggle that players faced and the political establishment that they had to work around to get recognized and to have the opportunity to play in the NHL. I hope that ESPN continues to provide us with more of these interesting documentaries.

 

I Am Santa Claus (2014)

This is an great little documentary about real bearded Santas, and it features Mick Foley so there is even more to be  excited about. The documentary follows around five men who are bearded Santas through a year so we can see what all they do the other months of the year.  I heard about this film on The Daily Show as they interviewed Mick Foley about the film and it sounded like something to watch in the time leading up to Christmas.  Mick Foley is best known as Mankind is a huge fan of Christmas and he is one of the men featured as he learns a little about the ins and out of being Santa. The other four are all interesting individuals as well.

The film offers a unique look into the life of a Santa as they seem to be ubiquitous in that short time period from late November to just before Christmas, but what do they do when they aren’t sitting in those chairs and being sat on. As it turns out there are many Santa centric events during the year and even an organization of Santa Claus’s who have real beards. This film show us that the people who are Santa are just like us normal people and even within their organization there are people who look down upon the things that other do in their personal life. I really enjoyed one of the individuals as we begin with him at the DMV changing the name on his license to Santa Claus, as he has gotten his name changed. The lengths some people go to for their craft. Mick Foley’s story was interesting as well since he went and found out how to be a Santa from a Santa who lives on Santa Claus Lane.

The film was very interesting and if you have some free time in the upcoming weeks perhaps watching I am Santa Claus would be a great thing to do, before all the big movies come out at/around Christmas. It is a fun movie on Netflix and is a fun way to get into the Christmas spirit.

I Know that Voice (2013) and Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father (2008)

I Know that Voice: In this Documentary about Voice Actors you can finally put a face to the voice of many of your favorite animated characters. It was a fun documentary to watch as it also explores the world of a voice actor and how they work. As is said in the movie, sure lots of people can do the voices, but it is getting into the character and doing something like Shakespeare or the Bible without having to stop and say “Wait a sec” before continuing. The film gives an interesting look at more that just cartoon but also looks at video games and anime explaining how they are different from a cartoon like Spongebob. With animes it is difficult for voice actors as the animation is already set and they have to match up with the lips to make it look right. In the world of video games it sounds like the worst thing to do as you have to record so many variations of things, for example with the latest Batman video game that means recording “He went to the (insert direction here).” Then there is different attacks and hits and whatever. It just goes to show the voice actors are really an unsung part of the entertainment world.

Dear Zachary: Now this documentary has continually been popping up as a film that I would like on Netflix so I decided to finally watch it. Dear Zachary is an interesting film as it is a video letter to a son about his father, Andrew Bagby, who was murdered before he was born so the son would know who his father was. It also goes into the details of how the case when as well. Now as it turns out the murderer was the ex girlfriend of the Andrew Bagby, and after she killed Andrew  Bagby she fled to Canada. So Andrew’s parent followed to try and get her extradited back to the United States, and it just so happens that the ex girlfriend is pregnant with Andrew’s child. So the movie explore the Canadian justice system and the ins and outs of the family law side. It is a complicated movie to really explain what all happens, but it was a very captivating story.

Magic Camp (2013), Now You See Me (2013) and The Incredible Burt Wonderstone(2013)

This weekend I found myself watching a whole bunch of movies about magic. I have always liked magic and at one time thought being a magician would be the coolest thing ever. So if there happens to be a movie about magic I am bound to watch it at some point. As usual there as spoilers below.

The documentary film Magic Camp is about the most prestigious sleep away magic camp in the United States, Tannen’s Magic Camp. The film follows the campers through their week at camp in 2011. The camp is open to individuals from like 12-20 and is held on the campus of Bryn Mawr College near Philadelphia. The movie focuses on the four individuals (three boys and a girl) who are selected on the first day of camp to compete for the final best act on the last evening of camp. We see their performances evolve from the first day to the last day.  I hope that one of these young magicians can make a name for themselves in magic and join the likes of David Blaine and David Copperfield.

The film Now You See Me is a unique tale as it is about a group of magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco) who rob banks and are being pursued by the FBI (Mark Ruffalo) and Interpol (Mélanie Laurent). The film begins a year before the event of the film as some mysterious force summons four solo magicians to a mystery address which hold vast secrets. These four magicians (an arrogant illusionist/ street magician, a mentalist, an escape artist/stage magician and a slight of hand/street magician/pickpocket) come together and form a group act despite their differences. They do three big shows on in Vegas, another in New Orleans, and the last on in New York City. At the first show in Vegas it seems like they robbed a bank in France and this brings the FBI and Interpol on their heels as they try to figure out how they robbed a bank halfway around the world. Along with the FBI and Interpol there is former magician (Morgan Freeman) who now serves as someone who debunks magic tricks for the public. At times we have no clue as to who is what and what is who in the movie, as it isn’t until the end when we have some resolution as to who was behind recruiting these magicians and why these events happened. As it turns out not all the threads are neatly closed up at the end but that leaves room for a sequel to happen, and it’s been confirmed that a sequel is happening.

The final movie I watched was The Incredible Burt Wonderstone. It’s a movie with Steve Carell so it is bound to be funny and it is about Las Vegas magicians and the rise of the new kind of magicians like Criss Angel. I was kind of disappointed with the film as it felt like it should have been made a decade ago as that was when Criss Angel was really popular as the film Magicians was. Burt Wonderstone (Steve Carell) is in a double act with his best friend Anton Marvelton (Steve Buscemi) they have been friends since they were children as we see in the film. Burt and Anton’s act has gotten stale as they’ve done it for the past 10 years and have gone through tons of female assistants as well. Jane (Olivia Wilde) is the last one as Burt and Anton are told by hotel management to update their act so they are more like Steve Gray (Jim Carrey), a David Blaine/Criss Angel like character who . In an ill conceived publicity stunt Burt and Anton will stay in a plastic block over the strip for a week. This last for less then an hour and Burt and Anton part ways. They go on different paths Burt is kicked out of the hotel as he tries to do his two person act by himself and fails. Burt finally goes for an entertainment job at an assisted living community and living there is Burt’s idol Rance Holloway (Alan Arkin). Burt’s love for magic is reawakened. Meanwhile, Anton goes to Cambodia to try to inspire the young with magic. Burt gets a call from the hotel owner and asks if he can perform at his kid’s birthday party. While at the party Burt learns that the owner is offering a 5 year contract for an act that wins a talent show on the opening night of his new hotel.  It was a fun movie but it seems like the romance with Jane seems a bit shoehorned in there at the last minute .

Any of these three movies are great if you are a fan of magic and hopefully this will be enough to tide me over before the new season of Masters of Illusion come on television.

 

News Round Up

Movies- There has been some more tragic news out of movie land this week as the brilliant writer/director/actor Harold Ramis passed. Ramis is one of the great comic minds of all time and his films will reach generations of fan to come. There have been lovely tributes to him and some horrible ones. Recently there was a unique post about one of his movies Groundhog Day and how it relates to Theology of the Body. Now I haven’t read much of Theology of the Body so it was nice to see it sort of explained through the movie.

In more Hollywood-ish news the folks over at Netflix have released a trailer for the upcoming season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars and it looks epic. Netflix will be adding The Clone Wars the Film and the Complete series on Instant in March. From the looks of the trailer it looks like it will help link the two trilogies together and hopefully provide a jumping off point which lead us into Rebels.

Weird News– Apparently over in England you can just have your television on for 3 years and no one will check on you. According to the report a woman who had been dead for three years and had been skeletonized had her television on and no one when to check on her. There is a documentary out about trying to figure out who the lady was and it sound really interesting. It looks like I will be adding this documentary, Dreams of A Life, to my list of movies to see.

Sports- Gay athletes have made headlines recently with Jason Collins signing with the Nets and becoming the first openly gay athlete to play in one of the 4 major sports (MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL). Also there was news that come out Michael Sam the DB from Missouri, who some consider a likely draft pick will be the first openly gay NFL player. There has been some backlash against Sam’s wanting to join the league as some lobbyist want to make it illegal for the NFL to have gay players this is laughable at best.

People might hate me for this but the worst part about all of this is that announcing that you are a homosexual is considered news. Ellen Page recently announced that she is a lesbian, and it made headlines. Sure it is great that people are more open about their sexualities but it’s not like we all care about it. Putting it in simpler terms the whole notion that anything that celebrities do is newsworthy makes me sick.