My Favorite Stories and Their Feel – The Last Samurai (2003) a film by Edward Zwick 

The Film, The Last Samurai, starts off like any film.  We are presented with problems in the world.  Better yet, we are presented with a cosmic problem and a microscopic problem.  The cosmic, or larger, problem is that there are internal struggles that are taking place both in the US and in Japan.  In the US, westward expansion meant removing the Native Americans from the lands they had loved and protected for centuries.  In Japan, the wholeness of a culture was being torn apart by a rebellion.  The micro dilemma lies in an American Soldier sick with guilt and condemnation and dying an angry alcoholic.  

An opportunity comes around for our Soldier, Nathan Algren, when his former Colonel contracts him to train the Japanese military using Western Strategy.  You see, a rebellion has risen against Westernization in Japan.  The traditional Samaurai have opposed the changes to culture and are ready to die for it.  The Japan Army has rifles while the Samurai still use bow and arrow.  For Algren, the task seemed like eaten cake.  Only the army consisted of farmers and laborers while the Samurai were life-long trained warriors.  This became more than reality on Algren’s first encounter with the Samurai.  The army fell apart with the first wave and Algren was captured by the rebellion.  

Algren spends several months in captivity but is allowed to participate and learn of Samurai culture and customs.  His relationship with the rebellion leader,  Katsumoto, becomes that of student and mentor.  Algren is transformed from the inside out.  

Algrens internal struggles stem from his shame.  The shame he sees in the mirror of who he used to be in the military.  Things he had to do and things he had to see.  We can relate to this even in the alternate.  Maybe there is a disappointment that we feel of things we weren’t able to do and things we may not ever have the chance to see.

What resonates most is the drastic change of scenery that Algren needed to find the cure.  We can see our surrounding and we know that this is life.  It’s a repetition of places and faces; of stresses and turmoils.  Can a change in that scenery bring perspective?  For Algren, that change came physically.  After all he was kidnapped by a Rebel force in Japan.  But for all of us, we must not forget that our number one landscape is our mind.  Our perspective and our take on the world we live in.  A change in landscape doesn’t always happen because we are clingy as humans.  But what if it did?  

Algren found a healthy body and a sound mind when he was snatched from his reality.  The new place gave him new principles and allowed him to find peace and forgiveness.  

As you watch the film, the slow but steady glimmer of light for Algren keeps you wanting more.  You are hopeful for him, even if when you were disgusted by him at the beginning.  This hope is one you fall in love with because you want it for yourself.  You wish it on Algren because you hope someone wishes it for you.  This is not to say that everyone’s life is miserable and everyone is an alcoholic.  No, not by a long shot.  But the sure thing is that everyone is longing for improvement.  A change is needed in every circumstance to achieve that.

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5 Horror Films To Die For

When you looked down at the stairwell all you saw was black!

The genre of Horror films has a special place in my heart – and I don’t go there very often!  For a reason of course.  My childhood was filled with excitement and bewilderment due in large part because my family shared a 100-year old house with another family.  This thing was huge, creepy, squeaky and jam-packed with crazy people, myself excluded.  My best friend to-date and his family lived downstairs while my family lived upstairs.  When you looked down at the stairwell all you saw was black!  Add to this that my younger brother and I were in constant competition with my buddy and his younger brother; matching our bravado and macho in any activity including Horror Movies.  I saw the worst ones made way way way too young.

With October comes Halloween and a plethora of horror movies will flood our television screens very soon.  The following are my top 5 rated horror films so that you can weed out the duds and focus on the stuff that will make you sleep with the closet light on and hugging the bear you got for valentine’s day last year.

I warn you that my list will not resemble a lot of shortlists in this categories.  When I choose a film to watch I have to be convinced that there is more than just ghouls and ghosts at every corner.  I have to be immersed in the story, care about the characters and most importantly, the fear has to be deeper than face value.  A monster is somewhat scary, but the realization that your past will haunt you forever is man’s worst nightmare.

 

  • The Sixth Sense (1999)6-sense

I love this film for so many reasons.  In order to keep the conversation sweet and short, I’ll include the most obvious.  The director, M. Night Shyamalan, has got to be one of the most innovative and creative storytellers to ever grace the screen.  His plot twists and character depth grab a hold of you so tightly that he is able to run subtle details right under your nose and you won’t even notice.  This film delves into the most popular and on-demand subject matter which is the paranormal and psychology but it will take you where you least expect by the end.  If you have not seen it, then are you really even alive…?  I hope you see what I did there.

 

  • A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)freddy-2

I’m sure that 90 percent of those reading this have seen this film and that’s part of why I include it in my favorites.  This is one of those films that I saw way too young and that really screwed with my head.  I mean it’s the perfect premise to mess with any childhood – if you fall asleep, then you die!  Smiley Face!  This film was made in 1984 which is fours years before I was born but it spawned a collection of films with one common denominator – Freddy Krueger.  He is undoubtedly a staple of October, Halloween, Trick-or-Treat, and Horror.  You can run when you are awake but what do you when you’re asleep and Freddy takes control?  Krueger is a boss.

 

  • Baskin (2015)baskin

For those with a weak stomach and a photographic memory – you have been warned.  This film is for those that are truly intrigued with how far a film will go to try to get at your psyche and soul and for those that don’t mind guts and gore.  This film was meant to take you right to the belly of H-E-double hockey sticks and it gets you there quick.  Without divulging the entire movie let me just say that it will creep you out and imprint images of horror in your brain that you couldn’t wash away with all the Clorox wipes in the world.  Beware!

  • The Exorcist (1973)exorcist

Without a doubt, one of the most talked about horror and suspense films ever made.  It is said that when this film was first shown in theaters around the globe, the audience raced out in herds because of the images, vibe, and overall subject matters it dealt with.  That was then and this is now – but not a thing has changed.  This film is on my list because it deals with more than just ghosts and goblins.  It starts the conversation containing God and Devil;  Good and Evil;  Light and Dark;  and the most important one yet – they are more real than we care to admit and all around us.  I saw this movie at a very young age and I’ll never forget the moment it became too real and unbearable to take.  I cried, then ran, then had to be soothed like if I was a toddler.  Granted I was about 7 or 8 but that fact alone rests my case which is the following:

There is something very real, tangible, and palpable about the spiritual realms.  Most ignore it their entire lives and never think twice.  But that is fool-hearty.  They say children see your soul right in your eyes – it’s a sense that God has granted them in their innocence and as time goes by we lose it because we are marred by society, troubles and conflicts, and our selfish journey to grandness.  There is something sinister and almost too accurate in this film that resonates more with children and even with adults.  You can’t watch this film without feeling some sense of uneasiness, curiosity, and the need for faith in something larger than yourself.

 

 

  • The Babadook (2014)babadook-3

This film makes the hairs on the back of your neck raise from the moment that it begins.  The casting of this film introduces 3 main characters that you will sympathize with immediately.  A single mother that does not remember what love is and that mundanely, and in a zombie-like trance, traverses each day with the same 2 things in her hands.  In the right hand, she holds regret.  In the left hand, she holds hopelessness.  Her son, which is ingeniously portrayed, has problems at school, is an introvert, is awkward as F-&*, and sees something in his room at night.  Then there is the thing that goes thump in the night.  It creeps its way into their metaphysical world in the most unexpected way but they both end up finding out that it has been with them all along.  In fact, it is them and they are it.  By the end of the film, we learn the true definition of the phrase “Your past haunts you forever.”  If you have not seen this film I bid you farewell with 2 things –

  1.  Watch during morning hours – It won’t help or matter anyway.
  2. Don’t…watch…alone.

 

Check out the Horror Movies that make my fellow Collabers say “Gulp” in the night!

 Jacqueliine Joy- Warning! Warning!  She will make you laugh. She joins me in the “Bloggers that have Kiddo’s” group of the COLLAB.  Check her out.  Jacqueliine’s Blog Site

Varsha- originally from Aruba, she delivers great cooking, fine dining, a rich diverse culture, and different accents!  Totally different timezone, Totally awesome blog! Don’t miss it!! Varsha’s Blog Site

Lee- “The Originator” of the FALL COLLABORATION, she puts together great material on Lifestyle, Beauty, and Health with the purpose of helping everyone out – one at a time!!!  Lee’s Blog Site

Jenna- She promotes self-love and respect!  Check out her blog straight from the Lone-Star State!  Absolutely great material!!  Jenna’s Blog Site

Morgan- She blogs about life,  fitness,  college life and beauty!  She is a Girl vs. World and everything else and boy does she put up a fight.  Check out the great perspective and experiences!! Morgan’s Blog Site

“St. Vincent”-A Race Track, Strip Club, and A Dive Bar

I’ll start this review with the thing that brought me into this film with big expectations – Mr. Bill Murray.  Now, if he were to see this he would possibly consider me a fool.  He would probably point out that with so many intricate details that go into a film it’s impossible to put so much weight on him.  This is where I laugh because who ever said that I’m concerned with all the intricacies??  

Melissa McCarthy plays Maggie, a struggling single mother in the midst of a divorce.  She moves to Brooklyn with her 12-year-old son, Oliver.  She is excited about their new house and her new job since it will all prove that she is fit and able to care for her child.  Problem is the new job requires her to work very long hours, so she is forced to leave Oliver in the care of Vincent (Bill Murray), the next door neighbor whom they met after their moving crew dropped a tree limb on his car.  First impression – ruined. Vincent, agreeing to babysit only for the cash, isn’t slowed down by the boy.   He takes Oliver along on his trips to the race track, strip club and dive bar.  What ensues is the formation of an unlikely friendship.  Oliver begins to see Vincent as a mentor  and, against all odds and everyone’s good judgment, sees the good in him.

This movie is speckled with so many amusing moments.  It had me from smile to frown; from inspired to let down.  I loved how it was so honest about the way we live and why we live that way.  It paints a picture of struggle and the domino effect we experience along with those struggles.  

The casting could not have been more perfect.  I read that the film might not have ever been made had Murray not agreed to it.  Do you know why this is?  This is because Vincent, from the get go, is a low life.  He smells of alcohol, never cleans his house, always wears the same clothes, and spends his time and money on prostitutes – pregnant ones at that.  Now Murray is not that!!  But he is an artist, an actor.  And this film needed someone that could go there.  It got what it needed.  Murray impresses me yet again and, coupled with Jaeden Lieberher as Oliver, tells a story of revealed truths.  In this book, the cover definitely does not tell the whole story.  We learn of Vincent and what he is capable of and grow to love Oliver with his wit and charisma for that age.  Melissa and Naomi Watts also contribute in their own ways, adding to the storyline that in one way or another has to come together.  

The only thing missing in this film is a gangster with a gun out to get Vincent.  Oh…. Wait.  That’s in there too.  I’m not including any spoilers in this one so you will have to log onto Netflix RIGHT NOW AND HIT PLAY!!!