Friday, September 17, 2010

Freaky Friday: Point Break

"I am an F-B-I agent"
Those immortal words ring throughout the history of cinema--a reminder to all that real talent is overrated.  If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times, "Keanu Reeves don't make a bad movie."  And this is indeed no exception to that rule (however "A Walk in the Clouds" might be).
Year- 1991
Rating- R
Running Time- 126 minutes
Enjoyability- UNLIMITED
This movie stars 3 great thespians: the aforementioned Keanu Reeves (playing Johnny Utah), The late Patrick Swayze (as Bodhi the leader of a rogue gang of bank robbing surfers), and wild man Gary Busey (as Angelo Pappas).  The fact that Gary Busey wasn't nominated for an Oscar further proves that the Academy Awards are run by Communists who want to undermine freedom in the USA.  This movie was directed by Kathryn Bigelow who recently won an oscar for some other movie (obviously the the Academy was just rectifying a 20 year old mistake).
This movie is about rookie FBI agent Johnny Utah--former college football star turned G-man who is now in LA to stop a series of perfectly executed bank robberies.  Angelo Pappas is an aging agent who holds the key to this mystery and urges Utah to go undercover as a surfer.  He falls in love with a surfer girl (who hasn't?) and falls in with a surfer gang led by Zen philosopher Bodhi.  Of course, we all know that Bodhi and his metaphysical warriors are the ones robbing the banks, but Utah is blinded by his admiration for Bodhi's philosophy, cool hair, and awesome abs.
In the end, he must go all "21 Jump Street" on his friends, admit that he's lied to his girlfriend, and bring down this laid back crime lord.
This movie works on every level.  It has been copied but never duplicated (aka Fast and Furious).
And if you doubt this movie's staying power, just know that a live version of the movie exists in the Los Angeles underground.  There is a "broadway" type show in LA where they re-create the film using a random person from the audience to play Keanu Reeves part: it's called Point Break Live! 
If you've never seen this movie, please do yourself a favor and check it out.  It's not my all time favorite movie, but it's pretty close.  And remember that sage advice given so many times--Keanu Reeves don't make a bad film.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hair Metal Monday: Cinderella

Whenever I wonder how Glam Rock could have possibly given way to that unholy pseudo music called "grunge", I need only remember the heights of lunacy embodied by bands like Cinderella.  This group embraced every Glam Rock stereotype: Ultra big hair, transvestite pirate outfits, over the top music videos, and attitude like nobody's business.  It seems almost oxymoronic that their biggest hit was "Nobody's Fool".....hmmmmm.
By the end of the 80's there were so many Glam rip-offs that the Sunset Strip was populated solely by androgynous crowds moving from one party to the next--ah the good ol' days.
The really tragic element in this scenario is that Cinderella for all their faults (which are legion) they were really a good band.  They could play their instruments and lead singer, Tom Keifer, had a great, albeit AC/DC voice.  They wailed.  Their music was solid, but their bravado outshone their talent.  In the end, they were just another Sunset Strip band that went the way of the dinosaur....too bad.  Their rookie album "Night Songs" went multi-platinum and their follow up effort "Long Cold Winter" is also a solid album.  They kept going even into the 90's and possibly their greatest song, "Hot and Bothered" is featured on the Wayne's World soundtrack alongside Queens uber-hit "Bohemian Rhapsody".  Cinderella rocks, but few remember this once heralded quartet; if you want to know why watch this.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Freaky Friday: Ghostbusters

I've been preoccupied with other things the last few days, like not laboring on Labor Day.  So this is a couple of days late...but definitely worth the wait.
In 1984 (what a great year for movies), this big budget summer blockbuster sparked my imagination like few other movies.  For years (and I'm not exaggerating), I wanted to be a paranormal extermination technician (a.k.a Ghostbuster).  These guys were awesome--they had great gear (nuclear accelerators, PKE- psychokinetic energy- meters, ghost traps, night vision goggles, etc), they trapped and contained ghosts, and they were geeks.
I even did a great deal of research on the topic.  When my dad caught me reading a guide to haunted houses in colonial America, he gave me that look as if to say, "I'm not getting grandchildren, am I?"  Well in your face, dad!
This movie stars Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Sigourney Weaver-- Ernie Hudson, Annie Potts, and Rick Moranis also provide a great supporting cast.
The plot is not bad: Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis play disgraced college professors who turn their expertise of the paranormal into a ghost extermination business right on the eve of a supernatural explosion of "biblical proportions".  They have to fight Zuul--an ancient Mesopotamian god who is back to end the world. 
The movie does go a bit astray with a 100 foot marshmallow man, but all in all this script is full of great one-liners and is immensely entertaining.
I give this one 4 1/2 stars (I have to deduct half a point for Mr. Stay Puft)
If you've never seen this one, shame on you!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Summer Greek: The Martyrdom of Polycarp

A text showing Peter's martyrdom
After finishing the Didache, I decided to translate portions of "The Martyrdom of Polycarp"--a letter written around 160 AD recounting the the persecution, trial, and death of the Bishop of Smyrna.
Polycarp 1:1-2
1- We write to you, brothers and sisters, things concerning the witnesses (martyrs) and especially the blessed Polycarp, who put an end to persecution by placing a seal on it with his own (witness) martyrdom.  For almost everything that came before happened in order that the Lord might show from above a witness (martyrdom) in accordance with the gospel.
2- He waited until he was betrayed, just as the Lord, in order that we might be imitators of him, not only looking out for ourselves but also for our neighbors.  For true and steadfast love does not only wish for itself to be saved, but for all the brothers and sisters.

The word martyr is the Greek word for "witness".  That is why I included it in brackets.  Polycarp's death "bore witness" to the power of Christ's resurrection, and this "witness" was meant to point others in the direction of Jesus and his Kingdom.  Polycarp refused to deny his faith even when tortured and ultimately killed.  He didn't do it to earn a good spot at the heavenly banquet table, he did it so that he might show others that Christ's "love is better than life"--that Christ is "the resurrection and the life".
People were so taken by Polycarp's "witness" that his story has been retold through the ages.  His testimony remains a powerful reminder of self sacrifice.  Polycarp was 86 when he "bore witness", reminding us that there is no retirement from Christian service.