Changes To My Blog

Lately I’ve been thinking of ways to maintain more consistency with my personal blog site. Some ideas have come and gone, but there are a few ideas that I would like to implement in addition to what is currently being written and published. Writing articles about topics I care about is something that I enjoy doing in my spare time and I am going to continue to do so, but now in a little more organized fashion.

I did change the title of my blog site, but as this article title indicates, I will be starting some new blog writing series. The first will be titled ‘The Top 3 Series,’ which can range from any topic on the planet. My second new series, ‘In Defense Series,’ can also be about any subject and will be defense pieces – typically about something controversial. The final series will be a retrospective series on professional athletes, titled: ‘Pro Athlete Retrospective.’ All of my titles are temporary and could slightly change.

To add to the list of new series, I will also be adding articles with some insights into my mind and life more consistently. I have a feeling this category is what most people will tend to gravitate towards, so I will make sure to hopefully reveal some of my inner workings at least once per month.

The first new article to be published will be “Top 3 Jim Carrey Films” and the goal is to publish one article from one of the new series once every few weeks. I have already gotten started for a different website that I write for on WordPress called Cinema Cure (that you can also find on this blog here), titled “In Defense of DCEU Fans: The Misguided Notion and View of DC Fandom.”

I hope you venture on this journey with me. It will be a lot of fun and I’ll also take requests into strong consideration. In addition, I will still write occasional reviews of TV-shows and movies as well as random opinion pieces.

Thanks for reading as always and have yourself a wonderful day!

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Did Tom Welling Just Tease His Next Film Project?

Some might remember Tom Welling as Charlie Baker from the Steve Martin-led film, Cheaper By the Dozen, but most probably remember Welling’s portrayal of Clark Kent / Superman from the hit WB and CW series, Smallville. After the show’s 10-season run ended in 2011, he has only appeared in a handful of projects, including Parkland, Draft Day, and The Choice.
After The Choice debuted in February 2016, things have been mostly silent for Welling minus his St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital t-shirt campaign. He hasn’t been announced to be involved with any other projects for the past 17 months, but now we may have an indication of a new project he may appear in – with Welling’s Instagram as the direct source.
On July 7th, Welling posted the following picture onto Instagram (which has been screenshotted from an iPhone).

TW
As you can see, he wrote “Back on set,” which is obviously a strong indication that he is filming something, but there is always a chance he might not be. As for what that project could be, your guess is as good as mine. I’m just happy that he might be involved with a new project. Let’s hope this is the beginning of his true comeback; he’s too talented of an actor not to.
Update: It has been brought to my attention that this picture is actually about Welling promoting Saddle Club with his girlfriend, Jessica Rose Lee. Sorry for the misinterpretation. It looks like we will have to wait longer to hear about any other potential projects. 

Rocky II: A Superior Sequel

“Yo, Adrian.” The sequel to the 1976 Academy Award for Best Picture (Rocky) continues the saga with increasing momentum and spectacle. It’s an action/thriller written from the heart. Rocky II (1979) screenplay was written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who also reprised his role as the “Italian Stallion” – Rocky Balboa. Other notable returning stars are Talia Shire (Adrian), Carl Weathers (Apollo Creed), Burt Young (Paulie), and Burgess Meredith (Mickey). Rocky II picked up right where the first one left off. Rocky and Apollo are in the same hospital, and things sort of whirlwind from there. Rocky lets his quick rise to fame get the best of him, and loses the respect of those close to him (along with all of his money). With a determined Apollo Creed feeling the heat of an overwhelming amount of hate-mail and media criticism, he is left with no choice but to prove his worth in a rematch with Philadelphia’s “favorite son,” Rocky Balboa.

Rocky II fight

In this Irwin Winkler/Robert Chartoff-produced film, the acting is absolutely spectacular. Carl Weathers steals the show as the reigning Heavyweight Champion. His line deliveries and body movements capture exactly how he feels, and got potentially snubbed for nomination of Best Supporting Actor at the 1980 Oscars. Weathers’s believability and vulernability really drove the motivation in every scene he was in. Another actor’s performance that really shone was that of Burgess Meredith, portraying Rocky’s trainer, Mickey Goldmill. He has a couple scenes in the film where he has to knock some sense into Rocky, and does it masterfully (in addition to adding some comedic relief at specific moments). His veteran experience really helps create that contrasted juxtaposition with the young, inexperienced Mr. Balboa. Sylvester Stallone was great as usual. His ability to continue the star-power of writing, directing, and starring in the same film, while making it almost an equal to his first big hit, compares similarly to a more recent example in Ben Affleck (as does this whole movie for the next blockbuster film Affleck will star in due out in March 2016, but that’s a different topic for a different day).

Ben Affleck

Most movie sequels don’t quite live up to the original, but that’s not necessarily the case with this film. A gritty and grounded style of storytelling really helps create believability not only for each scene, but in terms of what this film is trying to be. Another specific element in Stallone’s writing that excels is the humanistic approach combined with the grounded, everyday life “movie universe.” That term is used very frequently in today’s world of cinema. With sequels, prequels, remakes, and spin-offs in the works frequently, it can become very confusing to the average movie-goer for which is which. Fortunately for this film, it came out in 1979, so it didn’t have to deal with that.

When it comes to Stallone’s writing, each scene has a specific way in which they are voiced on screen that not only tell you, they resonate and make you think about it for moments afterwards (show, don’t tell). In other words, each scene carries weight. In a scene early on, Apollo is in an office with his trainers having a conversation. Apollo voices his opinion on wanting to face Balboa again, while his trainers disagree with him. Creed asks his head trainer Tony if he won the last fight, and even though Tony replied with saying that Apollo got the decision, Apollo fires back with “I won, but I didn’t beat him!” In addition to a comedic scene where Rocky proposes to Adrian in the most interesting and worst way possible, another scene where great writing is evident is when Rocky is greeted by Mickey at 3 A.M. in a church. Rocky is ailing, and Mickey sees this, so he starts off his monologue by going easy on him, reminding him that he has a fight coming up soon with an angry Apollo Creed that Rocky isn’t ready for. Then Mickey bursts out, “For God’s sake, why don’t you stand up and fight this guy hard like you done before? That was beautiful!” Then he eventually retreats by saying that he doesn’t want to get mad in a biblical place, but reveals his thoughts on how Rocky’s potential is more than he has proven thus far. It ends beautifully by Mickey sitting by Rocky and praying, while telling him how he’s all in with “Rocko” – whether they win or lose.

66ème Festival de Venise (Mostra)

Another beautiful element in Rocky II is the score. Composed by Bill Conti, it highlights the comedy, drama, and suspense in masterful ways. The comedic scenes are few and far between, but when they appear, the score usually helps create the levity that Stallone is trying to captivate by having light, soft piano themes (especially the scenes between Rocky and Adrian). When the going gets tough, it continues those softer themes, but usually with a slower, more somber tone. A great example of this is the track, “Vigil,” where it captures the emotion at the particular part of the movie beautifully. One of the editing choices made was adding the score in towards the end of each scene that needs it, with the exception of the training scenes and climactic boxing match. Before the final ring confrontation, there is a scene where something critical happens involving Adrian, Pauly, Mickey, and Rocky, and the suspense leading into that event is brought out of the cross-cutting scenes even more with the long-lasting baritone/bass note that keeps repeating. When Rocky finally kicks it in gear and starts training hardcore, Conti created this dark, motivating track that demonstrates how Rocky is feeling inside (motivated), and then he goes on a morning run – except this time a famously familiar tune: “Gonna Fly Now” starts playing and kids everywhere start running with Rocky down streets and all the way up those stairs. Finally, the score during the boxing match between Rocky and Apollo is suspenseful and epic – much like a 300 or Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II showdown. With the twists and turns during the characterization up until about 2/3 of the way in, the final battle between the two God-like warriors really exemplifies it, leaving you on the edge of whatever seat you’re sitting in to see who will make it out of the match alive.

Rocky II run

Rocky II really embodies what makes Hollywood so great and successful in today’s entertainment industry. It has all the highs, lows, and thrilling plot points that make a feature-film exciting and fun to watch. You see all these beloved characters return to the big-screen and do their best to endure through and overcome tough times and struggles. Between Stallone’s brilliant balance of characterization vs. spectacle, the actors delivering and putting on a wonderful display of emotion and physicality, and the score that helps put you cringing on the edge of your seat (or crying during sad moments) really make for one of the best sports films of all-time. There have been quite a lot of sports movies over the years – some great, some not-as-great – but none have really resonated with me quite like this Rocky franchise. These movies (with the exception of Rocky V) have always been favorites of mine since I was a little kid, and although much time has passed between now and then, that time has only allowed me to enjoy them even more. If you haven’t seen Rocky II, or even Rocky, I’m highly recommending that you find it on Netflix or DVD (shouldn’t be more than $10). You won’t be disappointed!

My Top 5 Films of All-Time (and some Honorable Mentions)

When it comes to the best movie ever, how on Earth can we decide on just one movie? There are so many good movies out there, especially now that we are in an age where special effects, known as CGI, can really boost (or bust) a film’s quality. After all, who doesn’t love seeing explosions, or flying with Superman? As much as I like that, I think the combination of great acting, script, and director is what really makes a movie great. Go look at the top movies IMDB has on their website. Pretty much all of them have all the things I previously mentioned. The following is a list of my favorites in order from bottom to top, so that way the best is saved for last, plus I’ll add a few that I’m really excited for in the future. But first, I feel as though I should list some honorable mentions. There were so many others I wanted to add, but if I chose that route I would end up with a book, so I’ll have it remain a short list. Keep in mind that these are films that I have seen before – I know there might be some others out there that might top one or two on my list, but I’m working on seeing them! Without further ado, here are my honorable mentions!

Honorable Mentions

Captain Phillips (2013)

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips really took me by surprise when I watched it for the first time. It was so intense! This movie really keeps you in suspense the entire time, Tom Hanks does a wonderful job as always in the lead role, and I promise you this movie is not a waste of your time! It is also based on a true story. Kevin Spacey is a notable producer for this film that was directed by Paul Greengrass (The Bourne Ultimatum) which delves into the horrible ship hijacking that these poor African kids are forced into doing, and tells the story of how perseverance, wisdom, and heart kept Rich Phillips alive.

12 Years a Slave (2013)

12 Years a Slave

12 Years a Slave was another movie that made me feel sad and depressed throughout its entirety, and I loved it for that reason! The story unfolds with Solomon Northup, a free black man in New York, was kidnapped and forced into slavery down South. With twists and turns throughout the film, fantastic acting by Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o, as well as producer Brad Pitt and directed by Steve McQueen (Shame) won Best Picture at the 2014 Oscars. Trust me, this movie didn’t win that award for no reason. Grab a kleenex or two and enjoy a masterpiece, also based on a true story.

Argo (2012)

Argo

Argo was really close to cracking my top five list. I almost want to go change it quick, but I figure if I do critics will slam me for showing too much favoritism for one of my favorite actor/directors, Ben Affleck, so I’ll just keep it among my honorable mentions. This is a really wonderful film, and won the 2013 Oscar’s Best Picture Award very deservingly so. The synopsis starts with a US Embassy in Iran being overtaken and how six members snuck away without being captured. They were safe at a Canadian-owned house there, but not for long. Then, CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) puts together a fake film crew to go scout for locations to shoot a fake movie, while safely bringing the civilians back home (also based on the inspirationally-true story). This film has a star-studded cast in Ben Affleck (director/lead role), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), John Goodman (Monsters Inc), and screenplay by Chris Terrio, who re-wrote the script for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice from David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight trilogy), but we’ll get to that later. Overall it is a great movie, and I highly recommend it.

Star Wars trilogy (Episodes IV, V, VI)

Star Wars Episode 5

I couldn’t decide between all three of the original George Lucas films, so I’m putting them all together collectively as a whole. Each movie gets better and continuously throws you for a loop, keeping you in the action despite being in a galaxy far, far away. The voice of James Earl Jones as Darth Vader, the progression of a hero in Mark Hamill portraying Luke Skywalker, and the kick-ass nature of Harrison Ford as Han Solo really drive the story forward. How about those special effects for being in the ’70s and ’80s? These are some of the most successful and critically-acclaimed films ever, check them out!

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Pursuit of Happiness

The Pursuit of Happyness is a movie that takes you into the life of the young man Chris Gardner (Will Smth) struggling in life so far, and trying his very best to to improve not only his life, but providing the best care for his son. They are posed with some tough challenges, like Gardner’s job at a prestigious company doesn’t pay since it’s an intern job, where only one person will be hired for the position. A great storyline and some fantastic acting by Will Smith really delves deep into a theme of making the most out of life, and creating the best life for your family.

Man of Steel (2013)

Man of Steel

Of all the films that are going to be mentioned, this one is my personal favorite. While it isn’t perfect, it’s one of the best superhero movies ever to hit the big screen. An origin story that’s directed by Zack Snyder (300), produced by Christopher Nolan (Interstellar) and written by David S. Goyer (The Dark Knight) really puts Superman into a realistic world where he is an outcast because he is different. When he finally discovers where he is from, General Zod (Michael Shannon) and company show up to take Kal-El back, or else Earth will suffer the consequences. What happens next is for you to watch and discuss. An excellent cast, starring Henry Cavill (Immortals), Amy Adams (American Hustle), Russel Crowe (Gladiator, Noah), Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix), Diane Lane (Unfaithful, Hollywoodland), and Kevin Costner (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Field of Dreams), along with intense storytelling really enhance its credibility. Did I forget to mention how visually stunning it is? It’s worth a watch, no matter what you think of the ending, I guarantee it!

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

Captain America Winter Soldier

The second installment of the Captain America franchise in the Marvel Cinematic Universe really hits a home-run here. In my humble opinion, it’s the best Marvel movie ever produced, surpassing The Avengers, and especially its sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron. As IMDB states, “As Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world, he teams up with another super soldier: the black widow, to battle a new threat from an old history: an assassin known as the Winter Soldier.” This film is directed by the Russo brothers and stars Chris Evans (Captain America: The First Avenger), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction), and Scarlett Johansson (The Avengers). A big improvement story-wise over the first movie, and includes a few small tid-bits from other Avengers that add a nice touch of comedy to it. Like I said, it’s the best Marvel movie yet!

Top 5 Films of All-Time

Now that we’ve gone through my honorable mentions, which are pretty good films in terms of how they make you feel, and entail quality directing, acting, producing, and scripts. The list that follows is my top five films of all-time, here we go!

#5 – Forrest Gump (1994)

Forrest Gump

If you haven’t seen Forrest Gump, I highly encourage you to do so as soon as you possibly can. It is considered one of the best critically-acclaimed films ever, and has won six Oscars to prove it. Tom Hanks stars as the title character, who is not the most intelligent man on the planet, yet finds himself at many historic events. This theme of being able to accomplish whatever you want, no matter what circumstances you might face is an uplifting message that really hits home. But don’t leave out Jenny! She is the one woman who seems to get him, and the one woman who he really understands too, but she keeps eluding him. It’s a wonderful story written by Eric Roth (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and reunites Hanks with director Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future, Cast Away).

#4 – The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003)

Lord of the Rings Return of the King

This epic movie closes the chapter on the Peter Jackson trilogy, and earned an 8.9 rating on IMDB. It’s also considered one  of the best all-round films ever to hit the cinema. The synopsis is as follows: While Frodo and Sam continue to approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, unaware of the path Gollum is leading them on, the former Fellowship aid Rohan and Gondor in a great battle in the Pelennor Fields, Minas Turith, and the Black Gates as Sauron wages his last war against Middle-Earth. Starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellan, and Viggo Mortensen, this fantasy action-packed adventure will leave you stunned. It won 11 Oscars- a great film!

#3 – The Dark Knight (2008)

Dark Knight

These next three films can easily be interchanged, but in my #3 spot I have The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Heath Ledger (seen above, Brokeback Mountain), Aaron Eckhart (Battle Los Angeles, Olympus Has Fallen), Michael Caine (Inception, Interstellar), Maggie Gyllenhaal (White House Down), Morgan Freeman (Shawshank Redemption, Se7en), and Gary Oldman (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix), the second installment of DC Comics’s biggest moneymaker brings us Christian Bale reprising his role as Batman facing off against the Joker, who is wreaking havoc on Gotham. With many twists and turns at unexpected moments, this film really keeps you on your toes until the credits. Many consider this the film that made comic book movies go mainstream in the world of cinema. Take a ride with Legendary Pictures’s psychological thriller that will leave you wanting more!

#2 – Good Will Hunting (1997)

Good Will Hunting

This independent film from 1997 will capture your soul, and possibly your tears. This film sees the best of Robin Williams, and the beginning of fame for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. Matt Damon, playing Will Hunting, is a janitor at M.I.T. and has a really special gift for math. Unfortunately, he has lived a rough life and needs help from a psychologist named Sean Maguire (Robin Williams). Of all the films on this list, this one might have the very best dialogue and characterization. It has a wonderfully-weaved, beautifully-timed dramedy aspect, and throws in some great themes and ideas to think about and let resonate. Good Will Hunting won two Oscars, and was nominated for Best Picture in 1998. Directed by Gus Van Sant, this movie hits it out of the park. Please watch it!

#1 – The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Shawshank Redemption

My number one movie of all-time is The Shawshank Redemption. Have you ever watched a movie for 142 minutes and walk away feeling numb and not knowing what to do for the rest of the day? That was me after watching this 1994 film. It literally tears one’s soul out, put it back in, and tear it out again. The synopsis for this movie is how two imprisoned men bond over a number of years, finding solace and eventual redemption through acts of common decency.Words have a tough time describing how Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins (Mystic River) aced their roles in this movie. Fun fact – it’s also Morgan Freeman’s favorite film that he has been a part of. With a big, surprise ending, this one is considered an American masterpiece. It’s a must-watch, hands down.

Films I Still Need to Watch / Most Anticipated

Now I’m going to move onto my next section of movies that I know are regarded as classics in American cinema that I still need to watch. I’m also going to include films that I’m very anxious for to come out in theaters.

The Godfather (1972)

The Godfather

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Pulp Fiction

San Andreas (2015)

San Andreas

Gone Girl (2014)

Gone Girl

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens