Hacksaw Ridge (2016)

  • The “speaking from my heart” review:

Before I get all technical, I want talk about Desmond Doss for a sec. I couldn’t help watching him feeling a closeness to a way of thinking that is close to home. I couldn’t help the fact that myself and Doss are almost identical twins when it comes to violence and helping people. In many ways Hacksaw Ridge confirmed a lot for me. Its funny how sometimes the phrase “comfort in numbers” actually rings true. Even though Doss was one man, I felt a sense of  validity after experiencing his unbelievable and unquestionably courageous acts of bravery.

His gospel rang true to me. All too often people like to tag me as “soft”  when considering my stance on war and helping people. Doss and I are mirrored in our thoughts and is that different than the norm? Sure. But ask yourself this? Did he save 75 souls that after the fact could care less of his “softness.”

My point is we need to stop “tagging” people as whatever makes sense to us and throw them in a category jail. We need to start looking at people as exactly what they are: people. Diverse thinking, uniquely made individuals who maybe on their own exhibit an odd piece of the puzzle. But make no mistake about it, they are a piece to a puzzle. Usually an important piece at that.

Bottom line: If you think different than the average, you shouldn’t be ashamed in who you are, the ashamed should be the shamers.

  • The “obligated, technical” review:

After a decade long hiatus and no less amount of controversies, Mel Gibson makes his long-awaited return to the director’s chair and immediately lets his presence felt & relevance known to everyone,his latest is a biographical war drama that depicts the horror of warfare in all its unadulterated glory yet captures it in a fashion that highlights the film’s anti-war themes with clarity.

Hacksaw Ridge tells the story of Desmond Doss, a God-fearing pacifist who enlists in the army to serve as a medic and becomes the first conscientious objector in American history to be awarded the Medal of Honour despite never firing a shot. The plot covers the events that shape up his beliefs, and his service above & beyond the call of duty in the Battle of Okinawa.

Directed by Mel Gibson (best known for Braveheart, The Passion of the Christ & Apocalypto), the film opens with a brief preview of what’s waiting ahead for the viewers before taking a step back to pave the necessary groundwork but once the soldiers are on the battlefield, Gibson unleashes hell on screen with excellent use of his skill set to stage one of the most harrowing depictions of warfare in recent memory.

The technical aspects are ingeniously executed and really assist in enriching the whole experience. Production design team skilfully recreates the required timeline with its period-specific set pieces, Cinematography utilises the camera to great effect and is at its best during the combat sequences. Editing is brilliantly handled & steadily paces the plot but there are few scenes in the first half that it could’ve done without.

Performance wise, the film packs a capable cast in Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Luke Bracey, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving & Teresa Palmer, with Garfield carrying the entire film on his shoulders. Despite coming off as a creepy nice guy in the first act, Garfield is able to finish things off on a high and his rendition of Desmond Doss may as well be his finest performance to date. Rest of the cast chip in with fine supporting work, with Vaughn getting to have the most fun.

On an overall scale, Hacksaw Ridge is one of the most vicious, violent & unrelenting exhibitions of war on the film canvas that presents its returning filmmaker in no-holds-barred mode and delivers a cinematic experience so raw & visceral that it will have its viewers gasping for breath & hiding for cover amidst all the mayhem & massacre that explodes on the screen in the final hour. One of the best films of 2016 that’s impressive enough to garner a spot amongst the greatest examples of its genre, Hacksaw Ridge is an instant classic that comes very highly recommended.

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Put Your Phone Down Today

We have a big problem in the world. We don’t look around anymore. We just look down. Today, more than any day, please look up and admire the amazing, once in a lifetime event that is a full solar eclipse. (I shouldn’t have to twist your arm).

It will be much more amazing than your cell phone.

Here is a great video from ‘Smarter Everyday’ to get you ready:

 

The Search for Silence

Our minds are poisoned. I hate being so pessimistic but it’s true.

Whats even more heartbreaking? I’m not totally sure were at fault. A combination of the times we live in and the attractiveness of things. If you take a step back and look at your life, you’ll very clearly see a picture of static surrounding you. What is that static you ask? One word I came to find: Noise.

Noise could come in many variations: sounds, screens, opinions, jobs, motives, goals, etc. Really, you name it, it could turn into noise. Believe it or not a bunch of our time is spent in noise. Noise controls, surrounds and for the most part, dictates us. Whether we agree with that notion or not, noise is a constant companion to our lives.

In our homes, we turn on our televisions. In our cars, we turn on the radio. When we exercise, we put on our headphones. Even when waiting in elevators or on hold with customer service, sound fills the void. I challenge you to find an area in your everyday life where you achieve peace and quiet. Report back, please. I promise you the task is sadly difficult.

That’s where the search for silence started for me: the realization that tranquil, calming moments were strangled by a stronger force. I started to see how routine noises had become, how it seeped into my life. And unfortunately, how it didn’t seem to bother me much.

You know, sometimes life has a way of swooping you up and turning the volume on so loud that we forget what no volume is like. Truth is, I can’t say I really miss the silence because as much as I think I’ve experienced it, I haven’t. Neither have you. Think about it. There is so much noise surrounding us. So much clutter, and so much distraction. Maybe it’s because I’m a minimalist at heart but all of this noise was an overwhelming force I had little control over. That bothered me.

A lightbulb then sparked: my quiet was gone, my God given rite to tranquility stolen. Like stillness was something I used to hear about. Like a distant relative that you don’t see any more, that doesn’t come to any family parties. I started thinking very intently about the sense of silence and about what benefits moments of quiet brings. Here’s a crazy thought exercise: What would the world be like if we all had a designated time of quiet? What changes would spark? What realizations as a people would we come to?

One of the biggest realization for me was taking control of my time. I don’t have to live a life of distractions and unnecessary detours. Although it doesn’t always feel like this: I am empowered to choose. The problem is, choosing is hard. Because habits are hard to break, especially bad habits. I started to focus on my bad habits. Social media…noise. Radio……noise. Podcasts……noise. Sports…….noise. I’m not saying all these had to go. But balance had to be achieved. My scale was way out of whack.

Like I mentioned earlier, all of our quiet to noise ratio is overwhelmed by the latter. We just don’t realize it. We’re overpowered and unaware of the noise. That really got me thinking. If I’m so out of balance, it’s impossible to see what I’m missing.

So, what am I missing? Are there benefits? Benefits to having quiet in our lives? Or did silence go by the wayside for a reason. Was it unconsciously chalked up as unnecessary?

Is time worth spent searching for silence?

Well, I deemed yes and i’ve started searching for ways to achieve silence. It meant breaking habits and routines. It meant odd, long spaces of nothing. It meant unnatural long pauses of quiet. It meant many bonfires by myself and long quiet walks. It honestly meant going out of my comfort zone and all I’m used to.

What I’ve found thus far has been startling, though.

I want to talk about focus and reflection a little bit. When I started quieting down elements I sensed something creeping back into my life. Something that was there, but much harder to achieve. I’m talking about focusing. I’m unsure if I’ve been a clearly focused, but knocking down the distraction of noise has helped tremendously.

Looking deeper though, it seemed most of my noise came from my wanting of content. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but I really wanted to know what I was missing in those time blocks of noise. I found that when left to just silence, I was reflecting on my past a whole lot more. Not in a depressing manner, but in a pro active learning objective. This was super interesting to me.

The focus and reflection I achieved that resulted from times of quiet where astounding and equally priceless to me. That’s an amazing notion, huh? That we could possibly produce something priceless with no worldly amount tagged on. In this case, my priceless product of silence was focus and reflection. I was able to think more clearly because I felt so much more in tune with myself. That made sense to me. Connecting with myself was an inability before, now it seems more reasonable based on reflection time in silence.

Of course, It goes without saying that I’m still in the very beginnings of this exercise, but what I’m finding is eye opening and demands personal documentation, in my opinion.

At the end of the day, what are we as a people if we don’t think, focus and reflect? I think piling on so much noise that prohibits silence is an extremely hazardous that equates to us being a whole lot less human as a society.

I fear the value of true, unobtrusive, calming, personal quiet time is fading softly into a dark sea. What I fear even more is that no one even flinches. Like throwing a life jacket is too much of a hassle. Personally, if I lose my quiet time, I lose myself and thoughts with it. Over the past few months, I’ve become aware of how valuable quiet time can be. It can be an escape in times of crisis. It can be as comforting as a warm blanket or as soothing as a hot cup of tea. The truth is silence is what you make it. But you can’t make anything from what you can’t find.

 

“She’s a Blind YouTuber”

I was extremely fortunate to meet Casey Neistat at the Hills Film Festival in New Milford, CT  back when I was making the rounds for my film, The Fiction. He was a genuinely nice guy and gave me some great filmmaking tips. Since then, he has become sort of a youtube sensation to say the least. If you haven’t check out his videos, they are most certainly worth your time. (links below)

His most recent video touched me on a deep level and I thought it was worth sharing. I can’t think of a better way for someone with 7 million subscribers to spend 12 minutes. This was truly sensational and good on Casey to showcase such a inspirational talent.

Casey’s channel

Molly’s Channel

You should subscribe to Molly’s, truly inspirational stuff.

End of the iPod

Like many of you i’m sure, the gateway device that introduced me to Apple Products was the original iPod. For obvious reasons, that device holds a special place in my heart. I was sad to hear today Apple is quietly phasing traditional iPods out (via macrumors)

Apple today removed the iPod nano and iPod shuffle from its website and online store around the world, and it has since confirmed the iconic portable media players have been discontinued. Apple continues to sell the iPod touch with updated pricing and storage, including a 32GB model for $199 and 128GB model for $299.

Apple also released this statement to clarify:

“Today, we are simplifying our iPod lineup with two models of iPod touch, now with double the capacity starting at just $199, and we are discontinuing the iPod shuffle and iPod nano,” an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider.

End of an era for sure. Business-wise, it just doesn’t make much sense to keep iPods around much longer. But the 15 year old in me is sad to see it go.