Friday, December 19, 2014

Have a Rockin' Christmas!

Before I leave the library today, I just wanted to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. For anyone out there that don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you a good one, anyway. For this time of the year, I just love listening to Becoming the Archetype's holiday single "O Holy Night"

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Holy Horror

Well, it's that time of the year again. One of three, actually. The three big holidays of the year that either gets Christians attacked by skeptics saying we ripped off pagan mythologies, or we attack because we think it's too dark. Without trying to sound like a badly written American movie, you know which one I'm talking about.
For the past five years, I have talked to people about "Christian horror" and how that is purely Biblical. To this day, very few even know the term, most holding on to some kind of superstitious fear that any kind of horror is strictly demonic. I have told people that if we Christians are to abstain from any single thing that has the appearance of evil, then I may as well not even read the Bible for all the creepy and terrifying stories in it. From supernatural horror to home invasion, from psychological horror to torture, there's really very little in terms of horror subgenres the Bible doesn't cover. One of which we celebrate every Easter/Resurrection Sunday.
As of last year, I have decided on a new personal tradition for October: to just read horror stories. Currently working on King's Joyland and Pawlish's Nephilim: Genesis of Evil. Both are pretty good to me, and I do have a few others to get through (including a reread of King's 'Salem's Lot, breaking my own rule of not rereading stories). This should be a nice month for a terror addict like myself.
Speaking of which, I considered making another blog strictly for Christian horror reviews, "Gothic Reverence," what do you think?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Earth to Echo: a review

In this day and age when, in any movie that involves children, said children will typically use any number of swearing and try to act like grown-ups too soon and everything falls apart for them, this movie was such a nostalgic breath of relief for me.
The brief explanation why: throughout the whole movie, I kept feeling like I was watching something from old-school Nickelodeon/Disney or an old Stephen King movie that had kids be not only the heroes, but also actually be kids- stupid, silly, quirky, annoying, but sticking together and show the world what it means to see the world through their eyes.
The longer explanation (and then some):
From the moment the movie began, the first thing that caught my attention was the sound design- minimalistic technic sounds, bordering on glitch, but too organized to be so.
Cue interviews, starting with the kid that seemed most like any given kid from the 90's, Munch. A total goofball who pretty much shows his personality within a couple minutes as you will see through the rest of the feature. Then lonely, depressed Alex, who doesn't give a crap because of the circumstances surrounding all of them, their families, their whole neighborhood. Then the mastermind of the camcorder, Tuck Simms, the main character of the flick. He gives a rundown on his friends and what's going on and why things are a touch depressing- yet none of it stops them from trading jokes and pulling friendly pranks on one another. One day, though, Tuck's phone "barfs" (as he says) what looks like a very weird image. It's happening to a lot of phones, so what's a kid to do? The three pull a classic 80's kid movie trick- lie to their parents, take a ride to see what their phones are "telling" them to do. The phones have gone from all maps to one map and two other functions.
Soon, they find what they're supposed to... a piece of junk, but after that, they find out it's more than that, it becomes something of a living treasure to them, one that has serious problems.
From there, things get a little more complicated (don't want a kid movie that's got the multiple layers of complexity of an adult-minded intellectual film, right?), with the video engineering being used in an interesting way- most films today that either use today's phone/computer technology or exploit it tend to overuse it and it becomes more a nuisance than revolutionary. In this case, in more than one way, it's organic to the movie's story, as well as Tuck's occasional narration. More than that is how the kids stick together, make questionable judgment calls (and Munch making obvious notes along the way, becoming the group's conscience, essentially), and all 4 kids (a girl that was the subject of jokes earlier in the movie eventually joins of her own volition, much to the boys' chagrin) get together and lay down everything they have to help their robotic owl-esque shaped companion, Echo, get too full strength and power. Even when Echo's not in full strength, he's still able to pull of his own little brand of MacGyver tricks. In one scene in particular, just when all hope seems lost and Echo has lost, one of the kids still has enough faith to do a repeat of something Echo always did and it actually works for Echo's benefit. After that, things just get better and better. By the time Echo gets all the help he needs to his ship, he has a little holographic map in front of him. Luckily, it's not on a grand scale like the 3-d planetary map in Prometheus, but just mere inches in front of Echo's tiny head. I thought was very nice and subtle- making sure the kids have room amongst their selves to talk without getting interrupted and awed but be theirselves. Moments later, never mind, it happens, but not so overly layered as to take away from the kids... they're featured within the holograms. After that, all's ready for liftoff. But after all the flashy stuff happens, I almost felt gypped, like it was way too rushed, then it occurs to me- they flashy effects weren't what the movie was about, if the effects stole too much of the scenes, they would have taken away from the kids's story. That realization hit me hard how much the filmmakers were making something for KIDS to enjoy, and maybe adults like me who would feel nostalgia of back then- when kids were kids, doing idiotic stuff, having wacky, quirky fun, having the adventure of a lifetime without the involvement of sex, swearing (one minced oath is let loose, reminding me of Jim Beaver's character in the CW's "Supernatural"), or heavy violence (there's a fight scene, but gladly it doesn't get bloody), or even drinking. They went out of their way during the adventure to help someone that was hurt, help them on their way escape people who wanted them dead (this is my one problem with the movie: the adults, for the most part, were rather one-dimensional, really no variety either in all the combined personalities nor in their character personalities), and that who they're helping helps them as well in incredible ways. So this has been an incredible journey for me to enjoy, and I wasn't ashamed that a couple times, I was the only one who laughed at surprised moments or the kids' quirks. I had great fun with this nostalgic package, straight from Relativity Media.


Monday, April 28, 2014

Unwillingness to fit in

Friday night, I went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier (FINALLY!) and, as I tell people, I knew it was going to be good- I didn't think it would be epic!

Throughout the movie, I kept noticing how I would relate to the Cap, namely how he refused to go along with this generation's relativistic ways and trying to compartmentalize one's own morals in order to do a job. When his partner did such a thing, it did lead to consequences, yet he always stuck to his morals when everyone else thought he was out of his mind. Frankly, I have been called names for being moralistic rather than relativistic, yet I still continue on.
Months before it came out, released pictures of how Captain America's new suit would look, and, for this generation, it did have a more modern, "dark" look, and what surprised me was how a few people reacted. They didn't want the change, they preferred his old-school style. Remember this, though:
In America, today, it's becoming illegal to have an American flag flying in your own home lawn. You get called "intolerant", "bigot", everything but "human" and "patriotic", would these be side effects of postmodernism and relativism and the whole Tolerance Movement? I dare say it certainly seems so.
In the first movie, Captain Rogers was completely unashamed in how much he believed in fighting for freedom, but even more so in fighting for the sake of a friend's life when no one else thought that friend could even be alive. In his second appearance, he made a thought-provocative one-liner ("With all due respect, ma'am, there's only one God, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that."), and even though The Avengers had many pro-Biblical moments, one-liners, subtleties, etc., it never got controversial, in fact it actually became one of the summer's biggest hits. And relativism got a slap in the face throughout. Try figuring that one out.
Before I saw the first movie, I never got into Captain America. I don't consider myself an American patriot. When a co-worker (who was stunned) asked me why not, I was blunt with her:
"With today's status quo, you're not allowed to be a Christian without getting dehumanized, so I'm status quo ante." She smiled at that response, and hey, I was taught honesty by my mother and subtlety by my father, so I've learned how to mix the two without compromising my faith nor values nor virtues. After all, if I felt it unnecessary, I would have given up my "v-card" around 15 years old, when it was the average age to give it up to fit in (nowadays, I think it's 12), instead I'm still waiting and am now 27. The culture bashes and ridicules me, yet I still continue on, regardless. As a few friends of mine say, I was born in the wrong generation. Or maybe... like Captain America, we were born in the right generation, with a different generation's mentality, and are meant to go against this generation's mindset. I have never had a problem going against the flow, against the grain and be a pain at times (okay, okay, quite often), but I won't stop being who I am just because some think my morals are "outdated" and think I'm "backward" (does that mean they're hypocritical if they call me narrow-minded just because I don't think like their narrow minds?).
After seeing the first movie, I was completely surprised, given that Joss Whedon's an atheist, but as a friend of mine pointed out, Stan Lee's involved in all the Marvel movies and believes in absolutes. When he passes on, if they're still making them, they'll try to change that, but they'll have a huge fanbase demanding what we're still getting. How do I know? It turns out that a few people who believe in relativism saw The Winter Soldier and considered the themes and considered the possibility of absolute good and evil to be existent after all.
All-in-all, it's a good possibility that relativism takes on a heavy toll on how one tries to live than one would ever expect. No wonder we're getting hungry for absolutes again.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time to stop playing it safe

For several years, I've been noticing how my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are becoming more and more timid, using Scripture to justify why they don't stand up to their persecutors- oh, wait. That's American Christians. And if anything, I've seen, since '07, that we constantly misuse Scripture, not getting the whole context, we do what I call "surface reading", something that even Jesus calls out. He calls out the scribes and Pharisees, saying "Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you know the word, yet you don't know what it means." So much for just a recent issue.
One of my biggest influences to be the way I am is a quote from one my favorite comedian/actors, Jim Carrey: "The problem with this world is that there is no danger music." Principally speaking, I believe that should mean we shouldn't be afraid to stand up for our beliefs, regardless of consequences. For a minor example, due to how my life played out, I have no problem being a Christian Goth, yet my mother cannot fully accept it because she doesn't approve the Gothic lifestyle (she stereotypes it as too dark for her, "I wasn't raised to be like that." I wasn't raised to be Gothic, but still...).
There can also be plenty of major examples, but all-in-all, I'd rather you think about it, Dear Reader.