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Do We Deserve Better?

I can’t remember the last move I stopped halfway through. Even if I spend a whopping $1.50 for a Redbox Blu Ray, something makes me finish the vast majority of movies I start, even if they aren’t particularly good. Perhaps it is the research that went into choosing a title or the time investment of driving to the specific Redbox machine. This wasn’t the case last night with Olympus Has Fallen. I have to be careful with this review, because I feel like I have been coming off as a little prudish lately when it comes to entertainment. I tried to get into Breaking Bad but found it to be too dark, despite the tremendous acting, writing and cinematography. Something about a cancer-stricken former teacher cooking up meth and murdering people with his partner wasn’t the greatest material for me to be consuming right before I went to bed - Brian Cranston’s wife also got nightmares from the show.

Before I get even more sidetracked, back to the scum that is Olympus Has Fallen. Who likes this trash? I can handle violent themes, sexual situations and rough language when it advances a story line or contrasts morality from lawlessness or chaos. What I can’t take is 118 minutes of people getting shot in the head point blank to titillate an audience that has been so dumbed down by recent cinematic efforts that this garbage passes as entertainment. I couldn’t contain my laughter when Aaron Eckhart’s Presidential character scrunches up his face and growls out one of the most entertaining lines of the film, “The United States of America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists!” Who let this cliche pass through the editing process? I don’t know why I feel like I have to keep reiterating this but I can take the violence, sex, drugs, language, whatever… Just tell a story of human beings with maybe a little redemption for those who do good. Make an attempt at an aesthetically pleasing picture (The CGI in Olympus Has Fallen might have looked good on a Nintendo Wii in 2007, but it looks horrible now). Even at $1.50, I felt robbed. Robbed of 118 minutes - er, rather about 45 minutes - of my life I’ll never get back. Let’s make the effort to not fund modern movies that make Die Hard and Air Force One look like masterpieces. At least those movies had smart dialogue, compelling characters and a little heart.

I was on the way home from work yesterday and was treated to this view of the sun rays amidst the dark storm clouds and dust storm that engulfed the Valley. It reminded me of the view I would often see when driving out to my wife’s (girlfriend at the time) house up in Washington State. She lived out on the water and the sun would often peak through in the evening after a storm when I was driving west to see her. There was something beautiful about the light juxtaposed with the darkness. For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29

I was on the way home from work yesterday and was treated to this view of the sun rays amidst the dark storm clouds and dust storm that engulfed the Valley. It reminded me of the view I would often see when driving out to my wife’s (girlfriend at the time) house up in Washington State. She lived out on the water and the sun would often peak through in the evening after a storm when I was driving west to see her. There was something beautiful about the light juxtaposed with the darkness. For you are my lamp, O Lord, and my God lightens my darkness. 2 Samuel 22:29

Our Failure to Predict Resilience

"When you focus on something bad happening, it tends to go like this: "If I don’t finish this report on time my boss is going to fire me, and I won’t have enough money to pay the rent, and my wife will leave, and she’ll take the kids and marry that Todd guy with the BMW. I’ll be so depressed that I’ll never be able to work again. I’ll get in a fight with a guy in the homeless shelter over whose sleeping bag touched whose, and I’ll get kicked out and I’ll end up living under a bridge in a cardboard box." That’s pretty bad.

Of course, the worse case scenario hardly ever happens. Even when it does, we fail to predict how resilient we’ll be.”

An excerpt from Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life by Laura Lee

Night Moves is a lesser-known 70’s neo-noir starring Gene Hackman as a retired professional football player who now spends his days as a private eye. Harry Moseby (Hackman) is hired by an aging film star to find her 16 year old daughter who went missing. Moseby’s day job turns into his night job when he discovers his wife is having an affair one evening.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie is Moseby’s conscience. In my opinion he is a decent man who is trying to make ends meet while his wife is sleeping around and blaming their struggles on his profession. On the other hand, he isn’t quite so innocent later in the movie. It is an interesting character study about relational communication, boundaries and revenge. Moseby might be portrayed as the hero in another genre, but in this movie his limitations and shortcomings are in full view. One reviewer summed Moseby up perfectly: he has “the simple desire to know the truth and thus somehow redeem his misspent life.” In typical noir fashion, many scenes are dark, taking place in the shadow of night and carrying a sense of pessimism. I wouldn’t say this film is as engrossing as The Conversation, but it is one that will most likely have you asking a lot of questions after the credits roll.

Night Moves is a lesser-known 70’s neo-noir starring Gene Hackman as a retired professional football player who now spends his days as a private eye. Harry Moseby (Hackman) is hired by an aging film star to find her 16 year old daughter who went missing. Moseby’s day job turns into his night job when he discovers his wife is having an affair one evening.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie is Moseby’s conscience. In my opinion he is a decent man who is trying to make ends meet while his wife is sleeping around and blaming their struggles on his profession. On the other hand, he isn’t quite so innocent later in the movie. It is an interesting character study about relational communication, boundaries and revenge. Moseby might be portrayed as the hero in another genre, but in this movie his limitations and shortcomings are in full view. One reviewer summed Moseby up perfectly: he has “the simple desire to know the truth and thus somehow redeem his misspent life.” In typical noir fashion, many scenes are dark, taking place in the shadow of night and carrying a sense of pessimism. I wouldn’t say this film is as engrossing as The Conversation, but it is one that will most likely have you asking a lot of questions after the credits roll.

So I’ve finally figured out the name of my favorite film genre: neo-noir. Basically any stylish crime drama or thriller from the early sixties and on… Charley Varrick is included on the list of popular neo-noir films and it stars one of my favorite actors, Walter Matthau. I’m glad I didn’t turn it off during the first five minutes, because the opening credits didn’t do much to set the tone of the movie. Basically every element of a stereotypical 70s crime movie is included in this one. From the hi-hat musical score to John Vernon playing the crooked bank executive, it isn’t hard to guess which decade this feature was released. Not that there is anything wrong with that… Some of my favorite movies include Dirty Harry, The Conversation, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon… Well, you get the picture. I’m really into 70’s crime dramas.
This one moved quickly, contained several brilliant laugh-out-loud moments and had a very fulfilling ending. I only wish they still made movies like this. I would classify this on the lighter side of the neo-noir fare, but it is still edgy enough. Varrick and his partner in crime narrowly escape with close to a million dollars after robbing a small-town bank and learn that the money most likely belongs to a group much more dangerous than citizens of the town. This is another movie that is difficult to talk too much about without giving away the plot, so I’m simply going to recommend watching it for yourself. It is light enough to be considered a popcorn flick, but contains enough substance to be considered a classic by most standards.

So I’ve finally figured out the name of my favorite film genre: neo-noir. Basically any stylish crime drama or thriller from the early sixties and on… Charley Varrick is included on the list of popular neo-noir films and it stars one of my favorite actors, Walter Matthau. I’m glad I didn’t turn it off during the first five minutes, because the opening credits didn’t do much to set the tone of the movie. Basically every element of a stereotypical 70s crime movie is included in this one. From the hi-hat musical score to John Vernon playing the crooked bank executive, it isn’t hard to guess which decade this feature was released. Not that there is anything wrong with that… Some of my favorite movies include Dirty Harry, The Conversation, Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon… Well, you get the picture. I’m really into 70’s crime dramas.

This one moved quickly, contained several brilliant laugh-out-loud moments and had a very fulfilling ending. I only wish they still made movies like this. I would classify this on the lighter side of the neo-noir fare, but it is still edgy enough. Varrick and his partner in crime narrowly escape with close to a million dollars after robbing a small-town bank and learn that the money most likely belongs to a group much more dangerous than citizens of the town. This is another movie that is difficult to talk too much about without giving away the plot, so I’m simply going to recommend watching it for yourself. It is light enough to be considered a popcorn flick, but contains enough substance to be considered a classic by most standards.

Side Effects (not to be confused with this one) turned out to be a modern noir that keeps you guessing until the end credits. Without spoilers, well… I really can’t say much at all now that I think about it. Jude Law is excellent as a psychiatrist trying to help a young woman (played by Emily Taylor) dealing with serious emotional issues. As you can probably tell, I am biased towards older movies but this one is an excellent one.

Side Effects (not to be confused with this one) turned out to be a modern noir that keeps you guessing until the end credits. Without spoilers, well… I really can’t say much at all now that I think about it. Jude Law is excellent as a psychiatrist trying to help a young woman (played by Emily Taylor) dealing with serious emotional issues. As you can probably tell, I am biased towards older movies but this one is an excellent one.