Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wedding Crashers (2005)

This is a solid movie. John Beckwith (Owen Wilson) and Jeremy Grey (Vince Vaughn) are divorce mediators. During the summer they like to visit random weddings in order to meet single women. At the biggest wedding of the season, John falls for the daughter of the US Secretary of Treasury (Christopher Walken), but she already has a boyfriend. Her younger, clingy sister soon attaches herself to Jeremy. When the two friends visit the family’s huge estate, they are in for an unusual weekend.

The main reason for the R-rating is the language, but there is also a little nudity. Political commentator James Carville and Senator John McCain both appear in the film talking to the Secretary of the Treasury. Filming took place in Washington, D.C., the Eastern Shore of Virginia, and Maryland's Eastern Shore. In 2007 NBC had a reality show called The Real Wedding Crashers that ran for 4 episodes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Twilight (2008)

This is an okay movie. Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) has always been a little bit different, never caring about fitting in with the trendy girls at her Phoenix high school. When her mother re-marries and sends Bella to live with her father in the rainy little town of Forks, Washington, she doesn't expect much of anything to change. Then she meets the mysterious and dazzling Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a boy unlike any she's ever met.

It is based on the 2005 novel by Stephenie Meyer. The apple on the book’s cover represents the forbidden fruit mentioned in Genesis. My mother has a cousin whose maiden name is Stefanie Myhre. Forks, Washington, is in Clallam County in the northwestern region of the state. The city has a population of just over 3,000 and the name is based on nearby rivers. It officially became a city in 1945. Stunt work was done mainly by the cast.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Speaker for the Dead

This is an okay book written by Orson Scott Card. Three thousand Earth years have passed since Ender Wiggin won humanity’s war with the Buggers. Ender is only in his mid-30s due to the relativistic aging of space travel. His books are widely read throughout the other planets and his words have nearly spawned a new religious experience, where someone called a speaker tells the entire true story of a person who has passed away. It is because of his skills at understanding people that he is sent to the planet Lusitania, where another species of alien has been discovered.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Taken (2008)

This is a solid French movie. Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) recently retired from his government career as what he calls a preventer, or someone who tries to stop bad events from happening. He moves to be near his daughter Kim, who lives with her mother Lenore and new step-father. Bryan's familial goal is nearly derailed when Kim requests his permission to spend time in Paris with a friend. Bryan's worst fears are realized when Kim and her friend Amanda are suddenly abducted from their apartment.

The movie is rated PG-13, but should have received an R rating. Mills never specifically describes his former job, but it was likely part of the Special Activities Division of the CIA, responsible for covert political actions and intelligence gathering in high risk areas. The movie was released in France 11 months before reaching theaters in the US. The film had the best opening day ever for Super Bowl weekend.

I have now seen 750 movies!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hotel for Dogs (2009)

This is an okay movie. 16-year old Andi (Emma Roberts) and her younger brother Bruce (Jake Austin) are forbidden to have any pets by their current guardians. Secretly they keep a Jack Russell Terrier named Friday and by tricking people into buying rocks they earn money to pay for his food. The resourceful kids stumble upon an abandoned hotel and with the help of some new friends transform it into a magical dog paradise.

The DVD will be released on April 28, 2009. There are some clever inventions shown for cleaning, feeding, and playing with the dogs. It was adapted from the 1971 novel by Lois Duncan. The film is the Nickelodeon cable television network's first film to be produced solely by DreamWorks Pictures.

The Final Season (2007)

This is an okay movie based on a true story. Norway, Iowa, is a small town where residents take baseball seriously. Even though Norway High School has fewer than 100 students, they have won the state championship 19 times. The state decides to move the students to another school, but the town's people worry it will destroy their community and economy. A former girl’s volleyball coach (Sean Astin) is chosen to be the boys’ baseball coach for one last season.

The movie was filmed in the cities of Vinton and Cedar Rapids in Iowa. Norway actually merged with Benton Community. The girl who sings the national anthem is the daughter of former major league pitcher Mike Boddicker, who played for Norway. Norway, Iowa, has a population of about 600.

God and evolution

I believe evolution and faith in God can be compatible. Condescending atheists who claim evolution disproves God are one of the factors for why a large portion of the population rejects the theory. There is a common belief among atheists that evolution is the only known process by which intelligence can develop and yet there were strict laws and processes in place before life even originated.

The Theory of Evolution does not apply to origins, it is basically about how DNA changes and causes new life forms to develop. Abiogenesis, which describes how inanimate matter turns into life, is currently at the hypothesis stage and even if it is ever proven, might not have anything directly to do with the process of evolution.

According to the Big Bang theory our universe had a beginning which is consistent with Genesis. The alternative viewpoint, based on conjecture as this point, claims we are just a lucky universe. However, there would have to be trillions of universes for this claim to hold up.

Physics tells us some aspects of our universe are indeterminate and unknowable and this is the biggest problem with a strict materialist view. The process affects biology at the molecular level and causes mutations to be random and unpredictable. Evolution does not say which species will develop next.

In 2005 a survey was done of the acceptance of evolution in 34 countries. Only three of the 15 nations that were part of the communist Soviet Union were included. The highest ranked of these was Estonia at number 19. Latvia and Lithuania were both in the bottom 5.

A common misperception is that the issue has been divided between enlightened liberals and ignorant conservatives. Last year a Gallup poll found acceptance of evolution was held by 36% of Republicans, 55% of Independents, and 56% of Democrats.

There were 20 or fewer copies made of the works by Herodotus, Thucydides, Tacitus, Caesar's Gallic Wars, and Livy's History of Rome and the earliest surviving copies are between 900 to 1300 years after the events, but are still considered historically valid. There were nearly 25,000 copies made of the original New Testament and most of the surviving manuscripts were written soon after the events.

The Firm (1993)

This is an okay movie. Mitch McDeere (Tom Cruise) is a brilliant and ambitious Harvard Law graduate. Driven by a fierce desire to forget his working-class past, Mitch joins a small, prosperous Tennessee firm offering Mitch and his wife an affluent lifestyle. But when FBI agents suggest to him there is corruption and murder within the firm, Mitch sets out to uncover the evidence even if it puts his family in danger from the Mafia.

It is based on the 1991 book by John Grisham, which helped him to gain wider recognition. Gene Hackman's name does not appear in the credits or on the movie poster. In the novel, Mitch never tells Abby about his infidelity. It was originally Eddie's previous secretary Tammy who seduced Avery in the Caribbean. Filming occurred at Owen Brennan's Restaurant and Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. This was the largest grossing R-rated movie of 1993 and of any film based off of a Grisham novel.

East L.A. Warriors (1989)

This is a solid movie. A former gang member (Tony Bravo) witnesses a drive-by shooting and after consulting with a detective encourages the gangs to settle their differences in a boxing ring instead.

The movie looks like it was filmed with a camcorder, but the action and dialogue are not rushed, but are very methodical. In the end the gangs decide to fight with their fists instead of with guns. There would be a lot fewer deaths and violence with this approach. A few of the scenes take place in a Catholic Church. It is sad and perilous when gang members, and even those in the mafia, believe while they kill without remorse that they will still be saved through the grace of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Thoroughly Modern Millie

Tonight I went to a musical with my grandparents. Normally my mother goes with them, but she was not able to and I live even closer to the theater. They have a season pass and see a new play once per month. I went to another one previously. I had trouble finding the theater because the instructions I found through Mapquest told me to take the 4th North exit, but it was actually passed 10th North. Eventually I stopped at a gas station and asked the cashier for directions.

Normally I am not a fan of musicals, but they are better in person than as a movie, and I enjoyed it. The main actor was really beautiful and she was a good singer. The actor who plays her main love interest reminded me of Topher Grace. Most of the women in the act were probably close to my age and it was fun to watch them. I wonder if they are ever distracted by anyone in the audience. There were a few scenes with kissing and I always wonder how the actors deal with that, especially if they are married or dating.

The story takes place in 1922 in New York City. A young woman named Millie Dilmount has left Kansas in search of bigger things. She talks about how she is a modern woman and wants to leave tradition behind. She hopes to marry up and thinks love is not important. When she first arrives in the city she is robbed, but she decides to stay optimistic and is able to fit in. She meets a young man while wandering the streets and at first she does not like him, but eventually she realizes he would be the best husband for her.

Millie sings a song called “Not for the Life of Me” about how life in New York City is far different from small towns across the country. She says the modern woman of the 1920s does not care about love in marriage, but when in history were marriage partners determined primarily on love? Romeo and Juliet was written several hundred years earlier in the 1590s and is about how their relationship based on love would destroy their families. It has been common practice for marriages based on arrangements or convenience. Recently there has been a casual attitude about marriage which has led to a high turnover rate. Love alone is not sufficient for a long term relationship and the lustful and blissful feelings can be fleeting. Some people are starting to realize that real love is deeper than that and relationships must be based on shared morals, temperament, and beliefs, to survive.

The musical is based on the 1967 comedy film starring Julie Andrews. In 2002 it was performed on Broadway. The President at the time of the events was Warren Harding who died of a heart attack on August 2, 1923. Prohibition was certified in 1920 with the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It was overturned with the Twenty-first Amendment in 1933. Women were given the right to vote in 1920 with the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment.