Follow up to 1996’s Space Jam, Space Jam: A New Legacy (2021), features NBA basketballer LeBron James as the demanding father to a son. The son would rather make video games than play ball, but his father would like son’s eyes on the ball. Then, son goes missing….father can get back son if he faces off on a computerized ball court against a mean team. So, he has to get a team together — from Cartoonsville.
Cultural theme: Why do fathers and sons get on one another’s nerves? The son wants to be a video game programmer, the father wants the son to be a basketballer. Fathers can be demanding and expect a lot from their sons, but this film says it is the father who has to learn to be understanding towards his son.
The theme has a kind of Christian soul.
One may call the film overblown but the first forty or so minutes is pretty conventional as the story establishes itself and is quite entertaining. The rest of the film is visual effects, cartoons-ville aka Looney Tunes, gags aplenty, and a big basketball game between the Goons and the Looney Tunes. It is all a bit of good fun that should please homely audiences.
Friendly Fire (the album; 2006), by Sean Ono Lennon. Released October 2, 2006. Sounds like friendly banter, a friendly conversation, with a point to get across as well, but firing not with all cylinders and palatable on the ear. Otherwise too middling for my taste and perhaps the title track sums this up best: “Dead Meat”.
I Love You (the album; 2006), by Diana Ross. Released October 2, 2006. The feel is modernish soul, with a touch of class. Not a very evenly arranged album with too many slower tracks in-between. The cover of Queen’s Crazy Thing Called Love is only respectable because of Diana’s convincing vocals it’s for real. Perhaps better titled “I Love You, (signed) Diana” to inject some warmth.
Body Riddle (2006) by Clark. Released October 2, 2006. This has the signs of an experimental album: what one may feel as an inconsistent sense of musical flow. In other words unpredictable and not straightforward, as it composes sound upon sound, even on the one song, and a steady, subtle ‘beat’ goes through. The effect is too jarring for me and sometimes just plain dull and off-putting.
The previous ‘poem’ I wrote, “The Friend”, was written out of more a matter of intent than designing something artistic. There is a debate that says one should always write or create something excellently or this does not matter as much as what one is saying. Well, “The Friend” is inclined to be in the latter camp. I had intent with my idea and the art was second on my mind. I don’t think this poem is really that artistic as there are uneven spots; sometimes it rhymes and then it sounds cheesy in a way. But I trust the intent gets through and that’s felt in the poem’s effect. I was wanting to show that Jesus respects women after hearing the song “Everyone Wants to Rule the World” by Tears for Fears. Jesus never came with a iron fist, but was gentle. I was reminded that Christianity can be regarded as an oppressive religion but this isn’t so when you read how Jesus related to women in the gospel.
Straight Outta Lynwood (2006), by Weird Al Yankovic. Released September 26, 2006. Weird Al has parodied songs by Michael Jackson (“Eat It”) and Madonna (“Like a Surgeon”) and this one is obviously a take on the title of the film Straight Outta Compton. On Straight Outta Lynwood, the lyrics are obviously doing parody, but the music sounds like the real thing. This is not a seamless parody album.
That Jesus was just (just the main word here) a good teacher is quoted with suspicion by preachers, who are quoting the culture and not themselves or the Bible. But I have never heard, as far as I can recall, someone saying to me personally, that is to me personally, that Jesus was just a good teacher. Though I somewhat took on board the preacher’s words that people have used this description of Jesus, that he is being called ‘just a good teacher‘.
In the gospel of John (John 16:25a to be exact) I see evidence that Jesus was a good teacher (not just a good teacher) and of course he was more.
This Time Around (2011), by Heather Williams. Released September 27, 2011. Heather Williams’ booming vocals (through the roof on “Hallelujah”) and musical energy certainly cannot be written off. This earnest Christian album hits the high notes. Its got body, heart, and soul and Williams sings like she knows her personal faith and tugs the heart when singing “Start Over”. While it may be just the encouragement someone needs in their walk through life, for me This Time Around is a little soft theologically, a bit too pseudo, and the musical notes here are not really what I am into. But when it touches the heart…
The question I ask myself is why don’t I do just one version of a review and leave it at that. The thing is that I may dislike a film but see its worth in themes. The traditional way of dealing with this from a Christian perspective is to praise the themes and forget that you disliked the thing. But I don’t forget. I didn’t like the thing! I wouldn’t buy it. Really! But, since I am conscious of the God thing as well, I want to bring something of that out, too, such as in a theme.
The solution was simple: Don’t downplay the so-called God thing in some work I dislike, turn the ‘God-thing’ over in another format of writing.
Therefore: spirit of life category should provide the thematic stuff in movies and music only and related themes. Although some of my earlier film and music writings that are now posted in the spirit of life category do contain some reviewy elements. This reviewy stuff might have been a critique of a theme. My entertainment review category on this blog should provide straight reviews only.
Update: This information in regards to the structure of the blog is no longer relevant. But in terms of reviews I am keeping to subjective reviews in the music category and more or less in the film category.
The Elephant Man was released October 10, 1980. My first encounter with the film The Elephant Man was a striking black and white photo in a hardback book. Because of the photo, and the interesting caption, I was drawn into the sense of the film. There must be more to this film that, as they say, is substance. And there is.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I would be posting more literary material, and that I have been doing, with straight reviews, reflections, and poetry. Unrelated to that I was inspired to change the name of this blog. I thought it was a good idea because it would reflect the more literary stuff I am publishing than before, so thought to re-christen it The Write Mix, which means the mix of writings I am presenting here.
Duets An American Classic (2006), by Tony Bennett with others. Released September 26, 2006. An album of swing, brass and jazz, wrapped in cool, should be embraced, should it not? If you are not into this, why harp? Aren’t albums like these a-okay, whatever the case? For me, sometimes.
The debut self-titled album by Mario Vazquez (2006). Released September 26, 2006. Maybe I have a heart for musicians who feature on reality show American Idol. Having been on American Idol they are liable to critique and when one is being measured in the public eye the effect can be bruising. Yet, Idol’s albums are not that good. Either cringing and embarrassing or something in-between. Former Idol Mario Vazquez came out with something really nice, and appealing is the gentleness of opening track “Gallery”. But the album is kind of weak, kind of produced, kind of sexy, and it all shows.
20 Y.O. (2006), by Janet Jackson. Released September 26, 2006. For Janet Jackson to celebrate twenty years of her music with a dance album seemed a good thing for us listeners. Her 2006 dance album celebrated twenty years of her music and presence since 1986’s Control but feels like trying too hard (to impress?) and is too sexualized. And after all Janet’s done in music?
I thought to explain some modifications on this blog, so here it goes. Longer reviews I have posted the last couple of months have been shifted to the ‘spirited’ category rather then keeping in the pop life category. These longer reviews are more in line with the ‘spirited’ category, anyhow. These reviews explore ideas and themes more than straight reviews and explore how the ‘spirit’ or ‘life’ of the movie or music got to me. I have more of these kind to post. But the entertainment reviews, which are shorter, are more about if I like something or not. Like I was in process of deciding to buy it or not. These reviews are more straightforward. So, these entertainment reviews are ones like I posted yesterday–the capsule reviews in other words. More coming up. Note: Spirited category has been transferred to the spirit of life category since this post. Update: The structuring as described here is no longer relevant.
Songs from the West Coast (2001), by Elton John. Released October 1, 2001. I am always open to an Elton John, but Songs from the West Coast is not vintage Elton so I had second thoughts. The album has the authenticity of the West Coast, the lyrics are quite interesting with musical accompaniment, and the high point is “I Want Love”, the album is even resonant musically, but not really into this lower-key Elton. A question was, does it have lasting effect? Probably not.
Fever (2001), by Kylie Minogue. Released October 1, 2001. I was open to hearing this Kylie Minogue album because I have heard snippets of Kylie’s dance music and quite liked it on television. I would certainly give this album a chance, but I am afraid Fever echoes desperation at a club discotheque.
The soundtrack of the film Amelie (2001), by Yann Tiersen. Released October 1, 2001. I was open to this album on the fine first note. I listened more and found this instrumental movie music very nice but was not into.
In a post before I wrote about God being actively present and I am wondering where someone would find God’s presence and activity. After that post, I thought about how God could be present actively in music somehow, but whether God is present there is another matter, perhaps of human origin, or even Satanic origin. But God can be there in his activity, perhaps even using the unusual, the unknown, the rejected.
Reviewers tend to gush at certain things and scold, but I wonder if they are truly being objective as they offer their verdict with sweeping words of praise or hatred. Reviewers are objective are they not as they quality their criticism with passages of writing that explore the work and then are sounding fair and unbiased. Most of them know something about their art, do they not, but after all is said, are they still coming down without the objective eye? Would coming down objectively be a denial of their person?
Well, I realize in my approaches to listening to music that I have three ways: I can reject it, I can be open to it without being into it, and I can be just into it. Hence I introduce a new theme on this blog, which tells you briefly, in a few words or more where necessary, where I stand on an album or piece of music. Rejected, open to, or into.
Sixty years ago this week, in the film Murder, She Said, Miss Marple (played by Margaret Rutherford) is on a train and as adapted from Agatha Christie’s 4.50 from Paddington witnesses someone strangling a woman – it always is a woman! It’s a matter of murder, she said, although the inspector does not believe her ‘overactive imagination’ as she was reading “Death from the Windows” a few minutes earlier.
Kevin Costner, Ashton Kutcher, Melissa Sagemiller, Clancy Brown, Neal McDonough
Running time: 2hrs 19min
Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers
The U.S. Coast Guards get a similar ode to those of fire fighters (Ladder 49) and the Los Angeles police (S.W.A.T). The Guardian (M) is dedicated to these rescuers of perilous capsized boats in the deep and high seas.
In the world of these characters, sacrifices are made in the name of commitment to saving lives. It doesn’t whet the audience’s appetite with such notions, it dishes it out over-generously.
The film, the story, the cultural theme, and my artistic awareness of Open Season (2006).
Family fun but it’s a bit edgy
Open Season (2006)
Voices of Martin Lawrence, Ashton Kutcher, Debra Messing, Gary Sinise
Running time: 1 hr 26min
Open Season is a G-rated computer-animated feature from Hollywood, an edgier family movie than usual, which adds substance to someone’s point that family genre these has become darker (such as the Harry Potter films). But the genre hasn’t fully crossed over.
The above photo is from the film Facing the Giants which was released fifteen years ago this week. This film headed an evangelical Christian film renaissance from the United States, but these films were not being distributed theatrically in my country. An idea that grew of out of this, so I wrote. I intended the piece for a conservative evangelical newspaper. Here is the article, on the anniversary of that Facing the Giants film. The headline is not mine, it is the editor’s. In terms of ‘pop life’, I discovered there are quite a few people around who only watch Christian film or that is their staple pop life. I have watched evangelical Christian films, one I remember best is a documentary called “Gods of the New Age” which has a distinguished narrator and the doco carries authority. I have not seen Facing the Giants. For the article go here:
I have been reading. Websites. And I see there is a dearth of facts. Sure, there is plenty of warble. But I want facts because I want to know. I want to learn something about the latest news or whatever it is clearly and simply. Not have to wade through tons of words to try and find the facts but I don’t find them even then. It is like finding a needle in a haystack. I know of resources in print that can take me to the facts easier.
This dearth of facts on the world wide web prompts me to change myself. Become more factual and clear. The dearth of facts makes me want to change my style of written communication, where appropriate.
Maybe this blog should start something off: a fact driven site. As well as keep writing the articles that need something more, where appropriate.
Communication style can be driven by what we have learnt at home and that can be challenging: ever listened to a family member express themselves? How would a child pick that up?