Can’t Help But Love ‘Her’

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The average romance film is not very special. In fact, they maybe come in just three varieties; the manic pixie dream, star-crossed love or pure accident. What I’m saying is, if you’ve seen ‘Titanic’, ‘Garden State’ and any adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, you can switch to action films.

And that would be true…except you haven’t seen ‘Her’ yet… Continue reading

“The Wolf of Wall Street” Bites Off Just Enough To Chew

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There are maybe a few hundreds of billions of reasons for the average person to despise the white collar rich man. As far as we understand those creatures, they’ve pillaged and plundered their way into the bank accounts of the poor and caused financial crisis after crisis. The brilliant documentary ‘Inside Job’ put it together nicely for us back in 2010. And if that was too cut and dry for you, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ is the narrative to accompany that analysis. Continue reading

The Body Barrier Chronicles: How T-shirts Can Change Your Sexuality

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If you’re a friend or even decent acquaintance of mine, you would know that the above t-shirt is actually my favorite article of clothing in the entire world. My brother and I helped come up with the slogan when I was planning an activist event in 2010, and since then I’ve worn this baby a couple hundred times. I’ve even asked the organization I was working for to make more, just so I can buy another one.

And because I sometimes have violent bouts of either activism of douchebaggery, I sometimes where it in social situations where it is unusual, ironic, or just plain controversial. I’ve gone to churches with it. I’ve deliberately worn it to hang out with homophobes. I’ve taught classes at a faith-based secondary school with it on.

I’ve even gone to rehearsals for a Christian play with it on. Continue reading

Love’s Not A Battlefield, It’s A Scandal…

The relationship between man and woman is critical to any work of fiction.

If one attempted to answer this question using Shonda Rhimes’ instant hit ‘Scandal’, they would have just too much to write about. In fact, I’m now quite ashamed in the fact that it took me almost two complete seasons to figure this out. But I’m going to pretend that I’ve stumbled on new information and share anyway…

‘Scandal’ is the story of renowned ‘fixer’ Olivia Pope, former Communications Consultant for the Office of the President of the United States of America turned classy, morally ambiguous savior of the socially status-rich and famous. Except it’s not. Yeah, sure, Olivia is the main character, the super heroine that we experience power and skill and cool demeanor through. But, she, like any good main character, is the person that we learn lessons through. Only, ‘Scandal’ is not like any other drama, where the lessons change. For Olivia Pope, the subject’s always the same – Love. Continue reading

An Exorcism

So, for those who wanted more info, or simply didn’t know, I am embarking on a Spoken Word LP project this year, and if all goes well and I finish my stuff on schedule, the whole thing will be ready for human consumption by the middle of the year.

I’ve always wanted to have some of my work recorded and ready for human consumption. It means, to me, that my work kinda supersedes myself, and doesn’t require my presence anymore for someone to gather my meaning and experience.

But the reason why this project is important to me is because it’s not just a collection of random works from me. It represents an experience I’ve had and a much bigger thing that it translates to for me. The LP is going to be called ‘The Exorcism of Port of Spain’. It’s the capital of my homeland of Trinidad & Tobago, and also where I highlight that all our problems stem from. It’s where our greed grows. It’s the place that has crafted all our own stories of inadequacy. It’s the place that takes our mothers and fathers away from their homes. And there are so many stories connected to that almost accidentally – so many stories of the Trinbagonian and the ills that affect them – that I had to try to tell them all together. And exorcise those demons that we live with…

Look out for more news of what’s happening.

Brendon’s Top 5 Movies of 2012

I might not have actually done a review since 2010, but every time I spend my $10 and settle myself in one of those shoddy Palladium seats to take in a couple of films, my eyes still try to take in every single piece of the director’s vision and actor’s emotion that spills out of the screen. Film is about experience – about imparting an emotion, sharing a moment, asking a question that people haven’t asked themselves, and having the audience experience people they’ve never met, or even parts of themselves they haven’t met before.

With that in mind, there are some films that did that and then some for audiences in 2012, myself included.

5) Looper

Looper poster, courtesy Wikipedia.org

Despite the inevitable confusion, this interesting take on time-travel and the world that it can create gives us a peer into our own souls. Would we sell our souls for the chance to live the next decade as rich b*tches? Would we look into our own eyes and pull the trigger to stop someone from killing us right now? Would we protect someone that could make other’s lives a living hell, and would we protect that person from ourselves? It has its own surprises; some characters we did not expect, with some stories that add a lot more layers than people might have first expected. What we also might not have expected is for Looper to be as slow as it was, but it proves to be a much more cerebral film as well, which it wins as.

4) Skyfall

Skyfall poster, courtesy rediff

For the James Bond fans, this is a very clever homage to the aspects of Bond that has made him a legendary film trope for the past 50 years, as well as an interesting conversation about the transition from old to new, for films, their characters, and us as people. As a fan myself, I think that there’s going to be a lot more new pieces of the 007 story, much like Quantum of Solace and Skyfall. But as a fan of characters, the idea that we get to see Bond at his least flattering – killing an assassin after he kills his own target, pulling at a lady’s blouse a week before asking her name. But we also see him show some real emotional vulnerability, and for those who know Bond, this is big. It proves that director Sam Mendes took this film seriously enough to figure out who Bond is, was, and maybe even should be.

3) Life of Pi

Life of Pi poster, courtesy http://noobnim.in.th

For those who didn’t yet know, director Ang Lee doesn’t make joke. He’s one of the few directors with a truly colossal success with different genres of film that speak about different peoples and cultures. With his most recent experiment, he gives audiences a truly spiritual experience with vivid images and a powerful, well-written story. Stories with one central character tend to be either hit or miss, but the character we meet here – Pi Patel – has a faith, determination and compassion that make him just too adorable. Whether its the beautiful world he meets, the tragic story he survives, or the awesome person he continues to be, Pi’s Life is bound to bring a tear to your eye and a smile to your face.

2) The Dark Knight Rises

Dark Knight Rises fan poster, courtesy Infiak

Christopher Nolan, in my opinion, might be the best director that Hollywood has ever seen. He might also be the scariest, but that’s another matter altogether. Nonetheless, his entire Dark Knight trilogy has managed to keep us on the edge of our seats, and looking at one of our favorite heroes in a completely new light. The vision, by the way, is all his from writing to directing, and not only is the story intricate and surprising in the writing, but it’s intense and emotive in its directing. A character in this film hardly feels like a breathing prop in this film, but rather a gear turning in the machine that gives us what we need at the end. Even folks who are not fans of Batman the character can fall in love with this action-packed thriller, but those who are familiar with Bruce Wayne will get a lot extra.

1) Wreck-It Ralph

Wreck-it Ralph poster, courtesy aceshowbiz.com

This might be a weird choice for some. After all, animated films, while very entertaining, are not the most serious of film genres. But I’m secure enough in my masculinity to say that this film made my eyes tear up almost all the way to the end. And that’s what experiences like this are engineered to do – to make us feel. And every emotion that Wreck-It Ralph aimed for hit the mark precisely, from the witty jokes and game references to the chapters of Ralph’s journey to become a hero. As far as a giant game reference goes, there was a little more to be desired, but as a film for all ages it is more than capable of leaving everyone walking away feeling things they didn’t know they could for pixels. Take it from someone who actually hates animated movies…

Special Mention: Abraham Lincolm: Vampire Hunter

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter poster, courtesy bigfanboy.com

Okay, so it’s no Lincoln, but what it does happen to be is a cleverly-written farce that manages to still take itself seriously enough to present characters of some worth. Sometime while watching this film, you’ll find yourself still suspending your disbelief, no matter how silly you find the idea of Abraham Lincoln vanquishing undead creatures. It’s because the story’s not written as a very bad joke, but rather a very far-fetched what-if that rides the train of thought to the end. And the ride is so exciting that we stick around to see what the destination looks like.

Documentary of the Year : Marley

Marley poster, courtesy collider.com

It’s no One Day in September, but Kevin McDonald does show that he’s learned a lot from the truckload of documentaries he’s directed since 1995. Marley is a very holistic look into the life of the reggae legend that is bound to make you love him and hate him just a splash more than you did before you saw it. It reveals the story behind not only the music he made, but the man that made that music and the people that helped along the way. Add to that an interesting side-view of the Jamaica he grew up in and grew to make that lovely music for, and some social and even political factors that influenced how people saw him at that time, and you have a truly enlightening experience. And it would not be complete without some of Bob Marley’s beautiful tunes playing in the background.

Weird Life Lessons From The Working World

So, I’ve officially been a working-class grunt for the past three days, as an embroidery technician at a place in central Trinidad. It’s not a particularly stressful or bothersome experience, but it is unusual for me. I can do the job (well, I’d like to think I’ve done a decent job), and it’s not something I haven’t been fortunate to get a little previous experience with. But the idea of doing a job, and this job in particular, is doing some interesting things to my personality…

  • Mornings have become more evil – First of all, the day usually started at 11AM for me. Now it’s been starting at 7. And I need to become a presentable human being in literally the first 15 minutes because I already woke up two hours later than expected. Then, I go out of my house to face the perils of public transportation, and face the fact that I’m going to be 30 minutes late no matter what form the universe decides to take. It’s something I’ve faced before at my volunteer teaching job…but that was literally right next door. This, on the other hand, is just far enough for me to fall asleep but just close enough for that to get me kidnapped. After just three days, I’ve already begun to dread the next.
  • I’ve seen the error of my ways – I’ve learned that some of the skills I learned years ago have been completely destroyed now. I had a discipline attached to how I carried myself, what time I’d wake up and get ready, how I would treat my spaces. But now, it’s all about getting the job done and sighing in relief. And, yeah, it gets the job done, but my spirit has always been one of getting the job done and then some. It’s the thing that allows me to do my best and keep my edge when situations seem to unravel, and it keeps me on my feet when I’ve got nothing to go on. I’m always prepared for every single eventuality, and if all goes well I can just sit back and let work do itself. I need to get back on my Boy Scout level…
  • I am just reckless – I screwed up my finger today, simply because I wasn’t focusing on the thing I was doing or what I already did. That sounds simple enough…when I lave out the fact that I essentially shoved my hand into a moving motor, while holding a piece of steel, and passing my hand dangerously close to a rapidly dropping needle. Also, all this was part of a thousands-dollars device that I couldn’t think about repairing.
  • Working people get excited for trivial things – Since I’ve been here, smiles have ended up on my face for sh*t that I would usually shrug at. I was ecstatic for getting up at 4:30 this morning and managing to iron a decent shirt. Yesterday, I was glad that a shirt was embroidered well. Today, I was glad that we have free boxes and that I almost completed an order. I mean, really? It’s only been three days, and this job has already become a part of my psyche…it’s scary.
  • This is how people get fat – every single day that I’ve worked here or even volunteered, I’ve eaten Burger King. Every single day. I can feel my body deteriorating…and, to be honest, I don’t care. My friend and co-worker has been doing this for the better part of a year. Working, especially working near a fast food establishment, does some demonic things to your diet and eating habits. You find yourself eating all sorts of filth at all weird hours of the day, just for the sake of having food. It gets worse – things that you might’ve been able to do before to keep yourself healthy, like a decent breakfast and a job in the morning or some gym time in the evening becomes much harder to do. You spend all this time working that you’re too tired to do genuine exercise at the end of it all, and there’s no time to do it before you truly start the day. So, for folks like me that really want to do some work on themselves physically, work becomes a pretty worrying idea…
  • It really is the thing that you do – There’s a reason why people ask ‘what do you do?’ when they ask what your employment is. It’s because it’s the only thing you’re really allowed to do for the majority of your conscious moment. I am an activist, writer and ‘artist’ at heart. That used to be what I did – activize, write and create. But, today, when I wanted and needed to do some of those things, I was not able, even when I was not doing anything else for the day. I still need to get used to this working thing, and figure out a schedule where I can make things work even if it means a slight stroke. But so far, I can’t say it’s completely possible to juggle this with all the other things I really do.
  • Work is enjoyable – Don’t overestimate me here. I’m amazingly lazy. I hate to have to do hard labor, I can’t stand getting dirty or sweaty, and I’m a big fan of just sitting down and writing. I hate the idea of starting a project, but I damn near get off on the idea of getting a project done. It’s a powerful feeling to know that you completed an objective or get something really heavy out of the way. Today, I had to find, sort and pack 140 pants and 70 belts, in a literal maze of boxes and bags of random unlabeled things. It seemed daunting when I saw the list of things I needed to get…so I rushed straight into it, and managed to find it all before lunch without breaking a sweat. It felt amazing to know that I managed to get the most work out of the way, and got to essentially relax for the rest of the day.

So, in less than a week, I’ve learned some things about myself and how I deal with work that I would’ve never imagined until I found myself in this place. To be real, some of it worries me a lot, but some others are great opportunities for growth for me. Maybe I needed to experience this job to build into the job – and the person – I’m supposed to become?