Monday, February 2, 2015

Dracula Untold: A Story That Should Have Remained Untold

Dracula Untold - Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind F or the uninitiated, "Dracula," for many is a vampire who wears a black tuxedo and sometimes turns into a bat after he seduces women with his hypnotic stare. He speaks with a Romanian accent and says silly things like, "I want to drink your blood," He is a monster that preys on women, and in a venereal sense, is a creature of lust. However, "Dracula Untold" attempts to tell the story behind the legend and bring to light the historical figure that Bram Stoker hinted at in his 1897 Gothic Horror novel. Luke Evans ("The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "Immortals") plays the semi-historical Prince Vlad of Transylvania. Sarah Gadon ("The Amazing Spider-Man 2") plays his wife Mirena, and Art Parkinson, little Rickon Stark from the HBO series "Game of Thrones" is Ingeras his son. Although freshmen director Gary Shore and writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless attempt to fill in the details behind the mystery of who Dracula is, they fall short in the history department while trying to make up for it in effort, special effects and action. 

This is the second origins blockbuster film for 2014. The first, "Hercules" staring Dwayne Johnson did a decent job bringing a version of the demigod to the big screen that is a more human and perhaps a more honest view at how we see ancient legends. Bram Stoker gave only a few hints in his novel of who he was basing his dark count on. For instance during one of Jonathon Harker's conversations with the Count, Dracula mentions that his family comes from the proud Székelys, and Boyars who fought Ottoman Turks in defense of his people and their lands. This narrows the field down to Prince Vlad III of Walachia, situated next to the region of Transylvania. Although Stoker displaces Vlad III to the Transylvanian Carpathian Mountains, there was no person other than the reviled Vlad Țepeș, the Impaler. Even more specific is the name Dracula, as Vlad III was a Christian Knight in the Order of the Dragon, or Dracul, or Dragkwlya. As the reputation as the bloodthirsty Prince spread, 400 years later, Irish playwright and theater manager, Bram Stoker, created a vampire story around that legend. Others say that Stoker had his story pretty much outlined when he was looking for a name for his vampire and came upon the bloody prince.

"Dracula Untold" attempts to bring back Stoker's Count by providing the audience with a few morsels of truth about the infamous man behind the legend, as well as plenty of Hollywood myth making tossed in for good measure. In this version, a narrator recounts how Vlad and his brother Radu “The Handsome” were given as political hostages as a children and were educated by the Turks. He learned the Quran, Turkish, literature, logic, and the Art of War. Instead, Sharpless and Sazama turn the atrocious Vlad into a sympathetic anti-hero. Yes, Vlad the Impaler was a Christian Crusader who took up the cross during Pope Pius II's Crusade against the Ottomans, but he did so with such gusto that both friend and foe alike reviled him.  "Untold" presents us with a man born into a cruel world and tries to soften the edges and humanize him. As the narrator tells us, after leaving the captivity of the Turks, and returning to his own lands to reign, he renounces violence, and like Rock’s character in “Hercules,” intends to settle down and become a stay at home prince to his wife and a good and loving father to his son. 

Dracula Untold: Charles Dance - Master Vampire  | A Constantly Racing Mind
After encountering evidence that the Ottoman Turks are on his lands, he and a small band of his men track the Turks to a bat infested mountain cave. Within the cave, they find the bones of humans who have lain there for centuries, along with the recently dispatched Turkish scouts. So many so, that Vlad realizes that something darker abides there. In a decent scene of horror (for a PG-13 movie), Vlad finds a creature who is so strong, but also so monstrous that he files that information for later. Returning to his home, we find that he has a beautiful wife (Gadon) and a well-bred, and unspoiled son (Parkinson) waiting for him to return. Shore allows us to see for ourselves perhaps the reason why Vlad hates the Turks so much as he removes his shirt to reveal horrible scars on his back from the whippings he endured when he was their prisoner.

While he and his family are in the midst of celebrating Easter in his grand hall with both servants and people of his court, Shore  depicts Vlad as a noble and generous prince. The Turks march in and interrupt the feast demanding their tax and levies for their Janissary corps. Janissarys are male children between the ages of 8 and 15 that serve in an elite corps of the Turkish Army. This sets the stage for rest of the film. Vlad is a good person only trying to save his family and his people. He has almost no army, and as he begs Mehmed II to leave his son out this deal, his hate returns with the memories of abuse at Mehmed's father's hands. Dominic Cooper ("Need for Speed," "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter") plays the Sultan Mehmed II who serves not only as the villain, but also as the catalyst that forces Vlad's hand in deciding to turn to the dark side. Returning to the bat cave mentioned earlier, he encounters a very old and ancient evil that may supply him with an answer to his dark prayers. "Game of Thrones" Charles Dance plays the very old Master Vampire. A dark Yoda of sorts, he cautions the young prince on the pitfalls of immortality and the need to feed. Yes, he will become a hero, but many will hate him. Unlike Louis and Lestat in "An Interview with a Vampire," Prince Vlad is given time to decide if he has buyer's remorse. He has three days to defeat the Sultan, however, the need to feed on human blood will become unbearable, but he cannot drink blood in that time. If he does, his change will become permanent. 

What would you do? Would you accept the dark side in order to save your loved ones? Or, would you stay the course and give in to the Sultan and wait until you have built your army? What the film does mention that is more or less historically accurate is that Radu, Vlad's brother, sided with Mehmed during the upcoming battles. From here on out, the "Dracula Untold" becomes a formula action film with somewhat melodramatic bitter sweet doomed romance, and plenty of CGI shenanigans which include Vlad morphing into not just one bat, but into an entire colony of them. The blood and gore is kept to a 21-century minimum, and the horror and thrill are more at an action level rather than going for the paranormal suspense and fear. 

Dracula Untold: Aftermath of Battle | A Constantly Racing Mind

The battle scenes are shot close up in the "Jason Bourne" style of dizzy and frenetic camera work, more of a blur if you will. Luke Evans' acting is stiff at times but conveys the charm of a prince and the brooding weight of responsibility for others. Dominic Cooper's Mehmet isn't around enough to like or dislike the character nor is Cooper's acting is of anything to note. Charles Dance as the creepy and demonic Master Vampire is probably the only real scary part in the whole film. Vlad's son Igneras is just another kid whom the audience are supposed to feel concern over his fate. Unfortunately I didn't. If anything i felt the film was lacking in passion (except for Luke Evans) for the whole film seems to me to be on the same level as Johnathon Harker played by Keanu Reeves, in Francis Ford Coppola’s “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.” The special effects in “Untold,” in some ways overshadow the story, and not in a good way. Watch if you are looking for an average action film  with just a tad bit of history, stay away if you are looking for that special film that you will remember as an important part of the Dracula cannon. If anything I give the director and writer some points for effort. 

"Dracula Untold" opened in theaters on October 10, 2014 and on DVD and Blu-ray on February 3, 2015.


Movie Data

Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, War 
Year: 2014
Staring: Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Art Parkinson, Charles Dance
Director: Gary Shore
Producer(s) Michael De Luca
Writer: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless, Bram Stoker (characters)
Rating: PG-13

Running Time: 92 minutes
Release Date: 10/10/2012

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Chappie: New Trailer - Cogito Ergo Sum

Director of "District 9" and "Elysium," Neill Blomkamp, has a new trailer out for his latest film "Chappie." 

Chappie, is the artificial being created by Deon Wilson, played by Dev Patel ("Slumdog Millionaire," "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel") is like a child becoming aware gradually. CNN's Anderson Cooper introduces the world to these robots meant to act in conjunction with police forces. As stated in the above trailer, they will go into force in 2016. 

Vincent Moore played by Hugh Jackman ("Wolverine," "Prisoners" is a former soldier who is on a crusade against artificial machines taking over the duties of police and soldiers claiming that "they are way too unpredictable."  While professor Wilson is intrigued with a machine that can actually think and feel, Moore is concerned about world domination by sentient machine overlords.

This trailer shows a different side of Blomkamp's new film. The title cards declare that Vincent Moore is "a man corrupted by power," and that Wilson is "a man inspired by change." While the story seems to have Sigourney Weaver playing in her usual role of the woman out to save mankind ("Paul," "The Cabin In the Woods," "Avatar," "Alien," "Aliens," etc.) She tells Moore that, "a thinking Robot could be the end of mankind." She also goes on to command Moore to "destroy that robot," and "burn it to ashes."  

It seems like Patel's Wilson character has gone ahead and done the unthinkable.and gave one of the police scouts the ability to think. Thus creating the conundrum, of creating what could be taken for a sentient being on the same level of humans. 
Cogito ergo sum

I Think Therefore, I am. 
The questions unfold about artificial-intelligence as the technology to create something akin to what we call consciousness looms on the horizon. Chappie declares, "I am alive. I am Chappie." as Chris Clark's haunting, but triumphant melody plays in the background. The real question that Blomkamp is asking, of course, "Is it a child, or the next step in evolution."

Sharlto Copley, the star of "District Nine," and co--star of "Elysium," in a motion capture suit plays Chappie the robot. Also along from the Blomkamp retinue of talent is Trent Opaloch as director of photography. Opaloch's credits include "District,"9" and  "Elysium," for Blomkamp and  "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" for directors Anthony and Joe Russo. 

Look for "Chappie" hits theaters March 6, 2013


Movie Data

Genre:  Sci-Fi, Thriller
Year:  2015
Staring: Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley, Dev Patel, Yo-Landi Visser
Director: Neill Blomkamp
Producer(s): Simon Kinberg
Writer: Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tatchell
Rating: R
Running Time: Unkown
Release Date: 3/8/2015

Friday, November 28, 2014

Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens: First Teaser Trailer

A long time ago, when I was but a child, The Force was present. It changed the way special effects were made, and had a huge social and cultural impact on the world. Then, not too long ago, when my children were young and impressionable, they too felt the force. Now the force has awoken and producer, director, writer, and all around bad-ass  J.J. Abrams has released the first teaser trailer for the recently named seventh installment of George Lucas' epic mythology that captured the minds and hearts of audiences back in 1977. 

When  George Lucas wrote and directed "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope." he drew on all the archetypes basic pattern is found in many narratives from around the world called the "Hero's Journey." Episodes 4 - 6 were, in mind the best of the six. However, say what you will about the prequels, my kids love them.

There isn't an official synopsis yet, as Abrams is a pretty secretive guy. However, you can glean what you can from the trailer. 

In the trailer below, the scene fades from black to the arid desert of what we all presume to be Tatooine. A voice says that, "There has been an awakening. Have you felt it?" Actor John Boyega pops up wearing a Stormtrooper's uniform sans helmet. He is looking panicked, and confused. Boyega turns his back to the camera. Still in the desert, but I guess closer to 

civilization, a droid that looks like a ball with an R2-D2 like semi-spherical top comes rolling past the camera. A platoon of Stormtroopers prepare to disembark into the night. Actress Daisy Ridley mounts a box like speeder and dashes away. Cut to an X-Wing pilot sitting in the cockpit as several X-Wings skim over a lake. A robed person, presumably a Jedi or a Sith, walks away into a dark forrest. He draws his lightsaber -- it is red, but with a handle guard. The voice once again speaks, "The dark side, and the light." John Williams' classic Star Wars theme blasts as the Millenium Falcon screams through the sky banking and rolling as it comes to skim the desert floor as two TIE fighters scream by blasting away. Then the familiar logo that launched a franchise appears on screen. 

I find the whole clip both interesting and disturbing at the same time. Interesting in that like in "Star Trek" we  saw some pretty interesting places that he placed the Enterprise. Here we some X-Wings doing more within the atmosphere. We see some new speeder and droid designs. I find it disturbing in that the Empire still exists or was the Republic was never restored after "Return of the Jedi?"  Lawrence Kasdan, who contributed his writing skills to "Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back" and "Star Wars: Episode VI - Return of the Jedi" is listed along with Abrams as writers for this installment.

Overall, I am happy to return to that galaxy far, far away and a long time ago.

December 18, 2015 is a long time to wait.

Movie Data
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Year:  2015
Staring:  Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Domhnall Gleeson, Peter Mayhew, Max von Sydow, Anthony Daniels, Kenny Baker, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley
Director: J.J. Abrams
Producer(s): J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Kathleen Kennedy
Writer: J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, George Lucas (characters)
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 
Release Date: 12/18/2015

Thursday, November 20, 2014

John Wick: Just When I Thought I Was Out...

John Wick: Keanu Reeves stars in Derek Kolstad's story - directed by Chad Stahelski's | A Constantly Racing Mind
L ast year Keanu Reeves ("The Matrix," "Speed") made "47 Ronin." The film was a critical and box office disappointment. The story was one of revenge based on a historic event from Japanese history. Sadly, the film was effects heavy but a narrative that lacked a certain amount of coherence as the producers tried to shoehorn Reeves into the story as a half-breed hero. This year Reeves is back with another revenge flick, and this time he doesn't disappoint. It's been a while since we have seen an action film that features some real decent Gun Fu. Perhaps we could count some scenes from Tarantino's "Django Unchained," or perhaps going back to 2010's "Kick Ass." In "John Wick" close quarter combat hasn't looked so good since Christian Bale's Gun Kata scenes in "Equilibrium." "John Wick" is an hour and forty minutes filled with action, a straightforward and compelling story, and some beautiful choreography and a decent body count.

John Wick is a former Hit Man for the Russian Mob. He miraculously left the business and got married. Five years later, his wife Helen (Bridget Moynahan – “Battle LA”) dies from cancer. The best years of John’s life are gone; however, knowing that she was dying, Helen buys her husband a small beagle puppy by the name of Daisy. The dog is delivered to John the evening after her funeral. At first, the two are guarded, but John eventually warms up to the gift from his wife. The next day while out getting supplies for his new friend, he stops and gets gas. While filling up his 69 Mustang, a young thug named Iosef played by "Game of Thrones’" Alfie Allen (Theon Greyjoy), hits John up about buying his car. John, of course, tells him that it's not for sale. Iosef tells John in Russian "everything has a price." John tells him that he doesn't have a price, and he says it in Russian. Later that night, Daisy has to go to the bathroom, and John follows her downstairs. In the dark, five guys in hoodies ambush John. They beat John with a baseball bat and Iosef steals the key to his car. Oh yeah, they also kill his dog. Iosef is the son of Viggo Tarasov (Michael Nyqvist - "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") a Russian Mafia boss who quietly runs a good portion of the city. When Viggo finds out his son has stolen John's car, he punches his son and tells him that he just made the biggest mistake of his life. John Wick is the Boogeyman. He isn't an assassin per say, as Viggo explains; he is the man that he would send to kill the assassins. John can do the impossible when it comes to killing. 

A man who has lost everything has nothing left to lose and has no problem losing himself in the single-mindedness necessary to fight an all-out war on the mob. Keanu Reeves is back in action hero form as Wick. Derek Kolstad's ("The Package") script introduces some interesting characters. Kolstad only fleshes out Wick's character leaving the rest thinly defined relying on archetypes instead. Willem Dafoe ("Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant") plays Marcus, an assassin and a potential ally or a potential foe. We meet Marcus after Helen's funeral. He comes to the cemetery in the rain to see how John is doing. The thing with the characters that Willem Dafoe plays is that there is always some ambiguity as to what side he is on. After declaring war on his former boss, he knows that Viggo will send men to kill him -- and he does. Later that night, the hit men arrive at John's home, all ninja style. John waits for them in the dark and in a ballet of bullets with John spinning and throwing his targets he claims a quick victory. Afterwards, John calls a cleanup crew as he makes dinner reservations for 12.

John Wick: Keanu Reeves as John Wick and Daisy | A Constantly Racing Mind

The stunt work is incredible in this film and there is a reason for it. First time director Chad Stahelski was Keanu's stunt double in "The Matrix," "The Matrix Reloaded," and "Constantine." Stahelski started in the film industry doing stunts in the early nineties. In fact, he was Keanu Reeves stunt double in "Point Break." Other interesting characters that Kolstad and Stahelski introduce are Ms. Perkins (Adrianne Palicki - "Legion") as a female assassin who doesn't mind breaking the rules, and Charon, the manager of a hotel that caters exclusively to assassins. The Continental Hotel is owned by Winston and played by the charismatic Ian McShane ("Hercules"). He warns John that conducting business on the premises will incur heavy fines. The manager of the hotel, played by Lance Reddick ("Fringe") is both ominous and mystical. Named after the ferryman of Hades who carries souls of the newly deceased across the rivers Styx and Acheron in Greek Mythology, Reddick is accommodating to Wick yet retains an aura of otherworldliness. The Continental is in a sense a limbo of sorts.

Much of the action takes place in a nightclub not far from the hotel. As mentioned before, the gunfights are a wonder to behold. Throughout the close quarter battles, John uses a form of the center axis relock system of firearms handling that provides the character with greater stability and maneuverability as he takes on each of Iosef's bodyguards.

As far as the story goes, Wick's motivation for going to war on the Tarasov crime organization is not because of the death of John's dog. Like the 1999 revenge flick "Payback" starring Mel Gibson, the motive is not so much vengeance, but principle. In that film, Gibson's character Porter takes on the Chicago mob because they have $70,000 of his money -- half of what he and his double crossing partner stole from him and gave to the mob. Here the dog is an extension of the emotions and love that he had for his wife, and his wife's love for him. Although John's dead wife is a total cliché, Kolstad twists it slightly to give John a slightly different reason for rage. You could say that "John Wick" is cliché ridden would be an understatement. But that doesn't detract from the entertainment value. Filled with foul language, gore, and violent scenes, "John Wick" is popcorn munching good time. If you aren't able to catch Keanu at the theater, make sure you check him out on Blu-ray or DVD.

Movie Data
Genre: Action, Thriller
Year:  2014
Staring:  Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, Adrianne Palicki, Ian McShane
Director: Chad Stahelski
Producer(s): Basil Iwanyk, David Leitch, Eva Longoria, Chad Stahelski, Mike Witherill, Keanu Reeves (executive producer)
Writer: Derek Kolstad
Rating: R
Running Time: 101 minutes
Release Date: 10/24/2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Interstellar: Christopher Nolan's Wrinkle In Time

Interstellar - Poster | A Constantly Racing Mind
W atching Christopher Nolan's new time twister, "Interstellar," one will find themselves engulfed in a cacophony of ideas, images and concepts that within the first half hour begin to form into a symphony of beauty and wonder. In this Science Fiction-Adventure film, Nolan takes, scientific concepts, and stunning visual effects, intertwining them with a compelling character story about love for humanity that transcends both space and time. Academy Award winner Matthew McConaughey (“Contact,” “Dallas Buyer’s Club”) stars as a former test pilot who must leave his family in order to find hope for humankind. Anne Hathaway (“The Dark Knight Rises”) joins McConaughey and two other scientists as they travel through a space-time anomaly that magically appears orbiting Saturn. They must search for a new planet that will sustain the human species as life on Earth is ending. John Lithgow, Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain ("Take Shelter," "The Debt," "Mama"), and Michael Caine, co-star in a film where Christopher Nolan pushes cinematic ideas of time and space further, rather than looking into the subconscious, this time he looks farther out into the reaches of space. Be prepared for an almost three hour cinematic event that kids over 13 and adults will enjoy.
"We used to look up at the sky and wonder at our place in the stars, now we just look down and worry about our place in the dirt." ~ Cooper
Although no one mentions the timeframe for "Interstellar," one can probably surmise that the opening of the film is taking place somewhere in the second half or near the end of this century. In a sense, this is a post-apocalyptic film where the horrors of worldwide famine have ravaged the population to a more manageable number. War is no longer an issue, and the United States government no longer has a standing army. The screenplay by Jonathon and Christopher Nolan introduce us to the former test pilot, and now a reluctant, and failed farmer played by McConaughey who only goes by his last name, either Coop or Cooper. Perhaps Nolan named him after Gordon Cooper, one of the seven original astronauts in Project Mercury. Coop is the father of two children, a 15 year-old boy by the name of Tom (Timothée Chalamet), and a 10 year-old daughter named Murphy or Murph (Mackenzie Foy). Perhaps Christopher Nolan is referencing Capt. Ed Murphy of Edwards Air Force Base in California’s Mojave Desert. As some allege that, the adage is named for him.

Interstellar - Timothée Chalamet, Mackenzie Foy), and Matthew McConaughey | A Constantly Racing Mind

The kid's mother is dead, and they live with Cooper's father in-law Donald, played by John Lithgow. In the first thirty minutes, Christopher Nolan works to establish the family dynamic and the world they live in. We find that a benevolent “ghost” haunts Murph by knocking books off her shelves. Books in this film are the key to the knowledge of the universe. Cooper is a scientist and only accepts facts and not superstition. We learn quickly that in this world, in order to quash any hope, or the funding of exploring space, society denies that the Apollo moon missions ever took place and was just a grand hoax. At Murph’s school, they have corrected books that explain that the United States never went to the moon, but faked it in order to, "cause the Soviet Union to bankrupt their economy and waste it on building rockets." I believe Nolan added this as one of his many tributes to the famed director Stanley Kubrick. Conspiracy theorist contends that Kubrick shot the Apollo 11 moon landing while filming his space epic. Also, that Kubrick's reason for not following Stephen King's original script for "The Shining," was that he filled it instead with Easter eggs crying out his complicity in the sham. In this world, the government shut down NASA about 10 years prior. The people of Earth are now a “caretaker” society. They focus on finding crops that resist blight, as wheat and rice, and now okra are gone. Corn is the last crop left, and that too is dying. Blight is a term that the Nolans, use to describe a world that is out of balance and nature has turned against humans. 
"We're not meant to save the world. We're meant to leave it," ~ Prof. Brand
The ever-present dust and frequent storms reminds me of "The Grapes of Wrath," and for a few minutes, I was sure I was watching the Ken Burns documentary "The Dust Storm" with interviews of elderly survivors of the new depression caused by famine and drought. The film is however, about how some unseemly interference by a other worldly presence, allow Murph and her dad to discover that humanity hasn't given up on saving the world. After following some clues left in the dust, they start on an adventure that reunites Cooper with his former mentor, Professor Brand (Caine). Cooper and Murph discover that deep in the former home of NORAD, NASA survives. We also meet his lovely daughter, Amelia (Hathaway) who and a group of scientist who have been training to explore space for a world to colonize. Like the use of Cooper, as the name of the main character, the Nolan brothers prefer to stay with aerospace pioneers they refer to Amelia Earhart. Prof. Brand convinces Cooper to join a group of scientist including his daughter, who will follow in the footsteps of 12 astronauts who entered a space-time anomaly (wormhole) and exited on the other side to a new galaxy. The Lazarus mission identified three habitable planets. All his life, Cooper feels that he has a greater purpose beyond what he does now. The mission is to enter the wormhole orbiting Saturn, locate the planets where Lazarus mission astronauts, Miller, Mann, and Edmunds have sent positive feedback for sustainable life, check out the planets and report back to Earth.

Interstellar - The Black Hole Gargantua | A Constantly Racing Mind
“Love is the one thing that transcends time and space.” ~ Prof. Brand
Both Nolans explore the emotions of separation and abandonment. Cooper must make a decision to lead the mission and leave his children behind in order to save humanity, or to stay and die and fight for survival with his family. As Brand tells Cooper, "We must confront the reality that nothing in our solar system can help us." He further ups the ante and tells him to, “...get out there and save them. We must reach far beyond our own lifespans. We must think not as individuals but as a species. We must confront the reality of interstellar travel." Brand has two plans to save humanity. Neither of them are efforts to save Earth. Plan A is to build a gigantic Torus that the refugees from Earth can travel in and follow through the wormhole. Plan B is the reseeding of a new planet with the fertilized embryos that they hope will multiply exponentially. The acting of the major characters in this film is exceptional. McConaughey, Hathaway, and Caine lead the cast in an emotional and visceral experience. The ones they love motivates each one of these three. Throughout the film Caine’s character, Brand, recites a Dylan Thomas poem, like a mantra, or a litany in hopes that someone can forge forward where he can’t. It is during the first half of the film where Mackenzie Foy ("The Conjuring") shines as the young Murph. She embodies the wonder and the hope that children have, and when Cooper leaves for space, almost at a moment's notice, Foy displays a range of emotions on the opposite side of the spectrum – those of hurt, abandonment, and despair.  
"Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." ~ Murphy’s Law
Space is fraught with danger, but as Amelia Brand says, "there is no evil." Nature isn’t evil, but humans are. We will see the truth of this philosophy later. Disaster is what the four humans and two robots find out there. Two of the four humans are Red Shirts, there is no other way to put it. Nolan, for the most part keeps to the no sound in space rule. Instead, Han Zimmer's epic score at times sweeps into strains akin to György Ligeti's version of "Lux Aeterna." Throughout the film, Zimmer's score resonates with emotion that accentuates but doesn't over power the narrative. Astronauts Romilly (David Gyasi - "Cloud Atlas") and Doyle (Wes Bentley - "The Hunger Games") join Cooper and Amelia as they launch into orbit to rendezvous with the spaceship Endurance. Adding to the cast in a most spectacular way are the two robots TAR and CASE voiced by Bill Irwin ("Law & Order: Special Victims Unit") and Josh Stewart ("The Collector"), respectively. If the homage to Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey " isn't apparent to you, then the monolithic structure of these two robotic life forms should make it apparent. In addition, they also capture the essence of HAL but in a more cheerful and happier type of Artificial Intelligence. Programmable with truth and humor spectrums, both TAR and CASE are essential to the plot. 

Interstellar - Anne Hathaway and Matthew McConaughey | A Constantly Racing Mind

For me, the big surprise was Matt Damon as Dr. Mann. Amelia proclaims that he is "the best of us." I don't want to spoil the film so I will say no more about him and the planet he is on. I will say that both of the planets that our explorers visit are amazing cinematically. Nolan displays many of his influences throughout the film, like having Matthew McConaughey play a man of science whose story arc moves him closer towards a more spiritual outlook. We remember McConaughey, as Jodie Foster’s love interest and a man of faith in the 1997 film “Contact,” telling Foster’s character that science can’t prove everything, like the concept of love. As in "Inception" Nolan plays with the relativity of time. Because, as we know, the closer one gets to a black hole, time has a tendency to stretch. For example, as our group of intrepid explorers travel closer to the first planet, for every seven years spent on the Endurance as it orbits around the planet, the people down below spend only an hour. So for some of our characters, they age differently than others. Jessica Chastain plays the older Murphy, who takes on the weight of saving humanity after Brand dies. Like Meg in “The Wrinkle in Time,” she becomes the hero of this story as she searches for her missing father.

This is a big movie filled with grand concepts of ecology, cosmology, metaphysics, humanism, and sacrifice, but ultimately this is a love story. The love of a parent for their children, the love between a man and a woman, and a man’s love for all humanity. Christopher Nolan knows that it is ambitious to reach for galaxies far, far, away, but to not do so, sells himself, and his viewers short as well. Behind the camera in place of Nolan regular Wally Pfister, is the Dutch cinematographer Hoyt Van Hotelman ("Let the Right One In," "The Fighter," "Her"). Nolan is a proponent of using real film, rather than high definition video in his work, and it shows. The camera work is more utilitarian rather than sweeping and grandiose as in the works of David Lean. However, Nolan’s visual effects crew did more than an outstanding job in creating the black hole. California Institute of Technology’s (Caltech), Kip Thorne, a theoretical physicist and the inspiration for “Interstellar” had a direct hand with the mathematical models that Nolan’s effects team used to render “Gargantua.” The effects are more in line cinematically with Stanley Kubrick, but perhaps a bit more comprehensible. There is a lot of exposition in "Interstellar" as the characters talk about loss of hope, loss of family, loss of courage, and plans for humanity's future. But don't worry; if you want action, there is plenty of it. From visiting a world covered in water, to an icy frigid planet, to the boundlessness of space, Christopher Nolan keeps the pace moving, he even adds a disaster on the Endurance, to up the drama and heighten the tension. Unlike Alphonso Curon's "Gravity,” we only have a few minutes in space with intimate contact with our main character as he tumbles through the void. For the socially conscious, Nolan features an ecological disaster that prompts visions of the apocalypse for the metaphysically inclined. I would be lying if I said that "Interstellar" is perfect, it isn’t. Nevertheless, those minor imperfections uplift this story of dying and renewal to stand as one of Christopher Nolan's masterpieces.


Movie Data
Genre: Action, Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi 
Year:  2014
Staring:  Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Michael Caine, Mackenzie Foy 
Director: Christopher Nolan
Producer(s): Christopher Nolan, Lynda Obst, Emma Thomas
Writer: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 169 minutes
Release Date: 11/7/2014

Friday, November 7, 2014

The Theory of Everything: Stephan Hawiking Unwinding Trailer

The Theory of Everything: The incredible story of Jane and Stephen Hawking | A Constantly Racing Mind

One of the greatest minds of the 20th and 21st Century, after Albert Einstein is theoretical physicist, Stephan Hawking.For many, the only image we have of Mr. Hawking is him sitting in his wheelchair. Now we have a look at the man who wrote the book "A Brief History of Time" and came up with the  theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, what is now known Hawking radiation. He is internationally renown in both the world of science and in pop culture as well.  The film is based on a book that Hawking's first wife Jane. Her memoir, "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen"  tells of her time with her ex-husband, beginning their time at Cambridge in the 1960's, their courtship, Stephan's initial stages of motor neuron disease (A.L.S.), the couple's marriage, his work as a physicist, and how Jane's lover for him  kept the stubborn Hawking going as he became increasingly crippled. In essence, Jane's memoir is about the evolution of the ultimate nerd.

So, here is the synopsis:
Starring Eddie Redmayne (“Les Misérables”) and Felicity Jones (“The Amazing Spider-Man 2”), this is the extraordinary story of one of the world’s greatest living minds, the renowned astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, who falls deeply in love with fellow Cambridge student Jane Wilde. Once a healthy, active young man, Hawking received an earth-shattering diagnosis at 21 years of age. With Jane fighting tirelessly by his side, Stephen embarks on his most ambitious scientific work, studying the very thing he now has precious little of – time. Together, they defy impossible odds, breaking new ground in medicine and science, and achieving more than they could ever have dreamed. The film is based on the memoir "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen," by Jane Hawking, and is directed by Academy Award winner James Marsh (“Man on Wire”).
In 2004

The trailer, above shows Stephan discussing with Jane that if Einstein's Theory of General Relativity is correct, that theoretically, he can "wind back the clock," and theorize what happened at the beginning of time.  Jane, on the other hand turns the moment  in to a cute, romantic moment culminating in a kiss. It also goes on to show Hawking under the tutelage of Dennis Sciama (David Thewlis) develop the mathematics behind the theory of Black Holes.. Finally, we see as Hawking's disease becomes more pronounced, and he no longer can hide it as he takes a fall on the campus.

"The Theory of Everything" is due out in limited release on November 7, 2014 in the United States. In a way, this film ties in with Christopher Nolan's blockbuster "Interstellar" that opens this weekend as well. While living in California in the early 1970's and as a visiting professor at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), he worked with faculty member Kip Thorne and debated the subject of Black Holes. Kip Thorne collaborated on Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar" providing the mathematical models that Nolan's effects team used to create the singularity images on screen, making as realistic as possible. 


Movie Data
Genre: Biography, Drama
Year:  2014
Staring:  Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis, Maxine Peake, Tom Prior, Sophie Perry 
Director: James Marsh
Producer(s): Tim Bevan, Lisa Bruce, Eric Fellner, Anthony McCarten
Writer: Anthony McCarten, Jane Hawking (book "Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen")
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 123 minutes
Release Date: 11/7/2014