Thursday, May 17, 2012

PCP in Theaters - The Avengers

So I had a chance to catch The Avengers in theaters, taking advantage of a Friday afternoon off from work to go see what has quickly become a box office behemoth, shattering records throughout it's first 10 days of release.  I saw it with my wife at a 1:45 show on 5/11 that was about half full, which is pretty impressive considering that most schools have not let out for the summer yet.  All in all, it was a great film that I enjoyed immensely.  In the days before having my son, this would have been a movie that I would have seen twice by now, instead I'll probably have to wait until the Blu-Ray comes out to catch it again.  As the first blockbuster of the summer, The Avengers kicks the season off to a great start.

The Avengers - 2012, Rated PG-13.  143 minutes.  Starring:  Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L Jackson, & Tom Hiddleston.  My rating:  10 out of 10.  Note:  I saw this in 2D, not in 3D.

Large ensemble comic book adaptations can be extremely difficult to pull of well on film.  You have to balance giving each character worthy screen time, depth of character, and their own moment in the spotlight, without having the movie feel too overcrowded, cluttered, or disjointed.  For examples of films that have thrown too many characters into the pot and failed, one needs look no further than Batman & Robin or Spider-Man 3.  And both of those films had less characters than The Avengers, so when Marvel first announced they were making this film, I was a little bit nervous that they wouldn't do the property justice.  Then Marvel announced that they were bringing on board Joss Whedon to co-write and direct the movie, and suddenly most of my fears evaporated.  If anyone knows how to balance a deep cast of characters it's Joss, given his television shows with huge casts, especially those in the Buffy/Angel universe.

Read the rest after the jump!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

POS - A letter to Senator Durbin

In my business law class this semester during my MBA program we were assigned a writing assignment to write a letter to a government official.  I figured I might as well post it here as well as send it to Senator Durbin, the Democrat Senator from IL, who is the Senate Majority Whip.  It's my thoughts on immigration and also how it needs to be an issue addressed before the election, not after.  So, enjoy!

Senator Dick Durbin
711 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Durbin:

            I am writing to you today about an issue that I feel is extremely important and should not wait until after the November election.  To give you some background on myself:  I am a registered voter in the state of Illinois, and I voted for you both in 2002 and 2008, and in 2006 I volunteered for the Tammy Duckworth Congressional campaign, and I am a consistent voter in all elections, both primaries and general elecitons.  (I am registered as a Republican however, so I can pull a GOP ballot for the primaries in IL to try and make sure that a candidate I hate never gets to the general election).  I am 30 years old, hold a masters degree, married, and have a newborn son.  I am a seventh generation American, but my wife is a naturalized citizen who came to the country legally when she was 7, and the issue that I feel needs to be addressed by our government as soon as possible is the topic of immigration.
            In 2008 then candidate Obama promised to make immigration an issue he would tackle in his first year in office.  Unfortunately, he wasted his political capital on a healthcare reform bill that although noble in intent was extremely poorly sold to the American public, resulting in people hating a bill that in reality they would actually like if they just understood the bill.  Because of this, he allowed immigration to fall by the wayside, and a major campaign promise he made went unfulfilled.  This should not be the case, as not tackling this issue is giving the GOP an opportunity to steal a major voting block from the Democratic Party.  There are estimated to be over 10 million illegal immigrants in this nation, and many millions more recent legal immigrants as well here on student or worker visas, and millions of recently naturalized citizens as well that now are able to vote in elections.  Traditionally, immigrants, especially Latino immigrants, tend to vote Democratic, but if a number of Latinos feel that President Obama betrayed them by not acting on immigration, they might either vote GOP or simply stay home in November.  With how close this election is likely to be, and with the country’s future hanging in the balance, you need to use your role as Majority Whip to get your colleagues to push as hard as they can to get immigration brought to the floor, and part of the political conversation for the fall election.  Just like the recent push for the Buffet Rule, the Senate needs to make a similar push for legislation benefitting immigrants, in order to force it as a wedge issue for the fall.  The Buffet Rule is allowing the debate for the fall to be cast in a class conflict, the 99% vs the 1%.  Having the GOP be just as obstinate on immigration as they are on raising taxes on the wealthy be a heavily discussed topic in the news cycle will cause Latinos to realize that they should not vote for a party that they might agree with on social issues such as gay marriage or abortion.  This will cause Latinos to feel that the President & the Democratic Party are working for them, and that the GOP is actively working against them, and will ensure that the Latino vote remains solidly Democrat for years to come.

(read the rest of the letter after the jump)

PCP in Theaters - American Reunion

Over the weekend of April 6th, for the first time since the birth of my son, I was finally able to see a movie in theaters.  Despite the box office juggernaut that is The Hunger Games that was dominating the country then, my wife and I went to see American Reunion instead.  We left our son in daycare and caught a matinee on a Friday, which we'll probably do a couple more times this summer for some other flicks like Dark Knight Rises.  It was nice to return to the theaters for the first time in over 3 months, and it was also nice to do so with a nostalgia trip like American Reunion.

American Reunion - 2012, Rated R.  113 minutes.  Starring - Everyone from the original American Pie movie plus a few newcomers.  Too many people to list here and frankly I'm feeling lazy.  My rating:  8 out of 10.

The first American Pie came out all the way back in July of 1999, which for me was the summer between my junior and senior year.  As the characters in the film were seniors in high school at the time, this movie franchise actually synched up nicely with where I was in my life.  In 2001, they reunited after some time in college, while I was in college.  In 2003 they had the wedding, and I was married in 2004.  Now in 2012 they are having the reunion movie, 13 years after they graduated from high school.  The characters are older, wiser, and starting families, again in line with where I am in my life.  Because of the timing, the American Pie franchise has always felt to me like it was the defining teenage movie of my generation, much like John Hughes movies were for the generation before.

As having a 13-year reunion is not typical for obvious reasons, they even lampshade it a bit in the script by having the characters in the film comment on how they couldn't get things in order at the school to do the reunion at the 10 year point (referring to difficulties in getting the whole cast back together and available at the same time).  The entire cast of the original movie returns, some in 1 scene cameos (Shannon Elizabeth, Natasha Lyonne), some with bit parts (Tara Reid), and some with full length appearances (everyone else).  Some new blood is injected in to the series as well, but I do hope that this is the final one in the series.  The film tells the story of the guys getting together for their reunion, and how for many of them their lives are not what they expected at this point in time.

The emotional core of the film continues to be the relationship between Jim (Jason Biggs) and his Dad (Eugene Levy).  This time it's a bit of a role reversal though, because while Jim's Dad is helping Jim out with advice on a post-child sex drought he's having with wife Michelle (Alyson Hannigan), Jim is also giving his dad advice on getting back in to the dating world after the death of Jim's mom in the intervening time between the last film and this one.  The sequences between Biggs & Levy are some of the best in the film, as are Jim's Dad's adventures with Stifler's Mom (not a spoiler, they meet in the trailer). 

All in all, the characters learn life lessons during the film, while rekindling old relationships or building new ones.  As befitting an American Pie movie there's also gratuitous nudity, sex, and some gross out humor.  It is an enjoyable trip down memory lane one last time with these characters I grew up with.  If you're a fan of the series, go see this movie.  If not, then you probably won't miss anything by missing the movie.  My wife and I enjoyed this though, and recommend it to everyone of our generation.