Dads Rocking in Cradles

Dad and Son

I need to act more on my inspiration. It’s a failing to keep holding back and let the flame reach the end of the match before I reach out to light the candle. The last two days I’ve been thinking of a story concept for a movie script. The idea is strongly built around the lifelong relationship between a Father and a Son. Today I decided to step a little closer to the candle and write some notes for this movie. I know fear will hold me back and pride could trip me up but I want to get a little more daring and start this journey. I’m not too old and definitely not too young so the day seems to be about right. Continue reading “Dads Rocking in Cradles”

Movie Review: Prisoners

Prisoners

This ‘out of nowhere’ movie about a kidnapping that will shake parents to the core is gaining a lot of support for writer Aaron Guzikowski. The writer of Contraband can thank Mark Wahlberg for taking a script that had little attention and driving it to the point we have a tension filled masterpiece on screen. The mere thought of a child abduction would send many a parent into a tail spin. Think of a loved one and it doesn’t take much to relate and at that point you have become vulnerable to Guzikowski’s pen.

Imagine for a moment your Thanksgiving dinner turns into anxiety and trauma as your six year-old daughter and her friend from next door disappear after a suspicious vehicle is seen in your quiet suburban street. Hours turn into days as the two families implode searching within and without to find clues to the girls whereabouts.

Despite the attention of directors Bryan Singer and Training Day’s Antoine Fuqua as well as Christian Bale, and Leonardo DiCaprio it was Mark Wahlberg’s interest that pushed things along for Prisoners until Canadian director Denis Villeneuve was appointed to shoot Hugh Jackman and Jake Gyllenhaal in the leads.

Jackman is intense as he plays a mid-west religious father, Keller Dover. A local builder with a bent on protecting his family down to the apocalypse prepared basement in their home, Dover is a man with a past that contributes to his self-sufficiency. His determined strength is passed into the core of his family, teaching his eldest boy Ralph played by Dylan Minnette to shoot deer in case ‘the need arises’. In the supporting cast we feel pain through the eyes of Mum, Grace, played by Maria Bello. At times comatose from the anguish we see the helplessness of all the key parties as they struggle to ask ‘what more can we do’?

The couple who are friend’s of the Dovers with their own daughter missing are played by powerhouse actors Terrence Howard and Viola Davis. They strengthen the emotional tooth pulling that this movie exudes. Watch for some killer performances by Paul Dano as Alex Jones who is seen as the number one suspect in the search for the girls and Melissa Leo who provides the thread as his mother Holly.

With Gyllenhaal we see the moody Detective Loki who doesn’t give up. Tracking down the worst scum bags is his bread and butter and telling the truth from a lie is an intuition he relies on but has he become tired and lost his edge. Gyllenhaal is a dog with a bone in this story prompting us to ask whether the Detective is on his game as time runs out and leads run dry.

As a movie Prisoners builds an incredible collection of imagery that begs the question who is caught and who is the captor. What at first appears an easy drama of sorts moves to touch on our fears and then tortures the audience to ask how far we would go to punish the perpetrators. It walks some dangerous moral ground and asks you two key questions. “Does the ends justify the means?” and “How should the punishment fit the crime?”

Rating: R16 Violence,offensive language and content that may disturb

Our New Dr Who is a Grumpy Old Man

Peter Capaldi the 12th Dr WhoThe BBC announced the 12th Doctor would be Peter Capaldi, a Glasgow born British actor with an Oscar and Bafta on the mantle piece. Capaldi had a guest spot in a 2008 episode of Dr Who and while he ironically had a role as a W.H.O Dr in the World War ‘Z’ movie, it was his role as the foul mouthed spin doctor, Malcolm Tucker from “The Thick of It” that has given him recent fame. The 55 year-old is a long term Dr Who fan who back at the age of 15 was writing to the papers encouraging them to do a 25 year special when it came up in 1988. Support for Capaldi’s appointment has been coming in from a number of quarters including of course the current Doctor, Matt Smith. John Hurt and Stephen Fry both tweeted their congratulations;

 

Currently he has just finished doing a BBC version of the Three Musketeers which is a role removed from many of his roles. Looking at his performances and acting range you could ask if he was the cheaper ‘Hugh Laurie’ for the role. With the craggy face and the wide “possum in the head-lights” look he will give the role a whole new dimension. Peter Capaldi begins filming for the new series in the English Autumn.

Download the 12th Doctor Who as a Facebook Cover art. Click Here

Movie Review: The Internship

The Internship

Air New Zealand continued to support their position as The Flying Social Network with a red carpet première of The Internship at Hoyts Sylvia Park. Invited guests, competition winners and social media friends enjoyed the Air New Zealand hospitality of superb food and All Good drinks from the Karma Cola and Gingerella team. The audience entered into the #AirNZGetYourGeekOn atmosphere and you could be forgiven for thinking you were walking through a Dick Smith cloning convention. Many had found a new use for their old 3D glasses collection at home, punching the lenses out to give a look of geek genius in their costume attire. It was an appropriate event after Air New Zealand recently were asked to Google’s I/O event to profile the Air New Zealand Fairy program.

Three ingredients brought together in the new comedy The Internship have created a fun uplifting experience for movie goers. First up the stage is set when you plant a comedy script in the middle of the world’s best employment location at Google in Mountain View, California. The myth that is a reality comes to life in the movie and starts with free food on campus and doesn’t end with the sleep pods or the bikes in Google colours. The script that was written by Vince Vaughan and sanded into shape by Jared Stern is the right mix of feel good humour, Owen Wilson philosophy and a story arc that you know will take you higher.

What really rounds out the recipe though, is the Master Chef in Director, Shawn Levy. From Night at the Museum to Real Steel he knows his story craft. Taking an eclectic cast and weaving a few heart strings through the comedy is something only a few directors can manage. For a comedy movie I was surprised that the 119min was a smooth evening out with no time to look up the time. The antagonists were likeable rogues and the battlers were believable in both their weakness and their ability to overcome in the fightback. Tie in a simple love story for the backdrop and you know the food is good for the eating.

Our story walks along the slightly unbelievable path of two down and out salesman in Nick (Owen Wilson) and Billy (Vince Vaughan). When their successful sales careers falls flat on their face they have to reinvent themselves in the face of personal failure. John Goodman as their boss tells them they’re only good for one thing and that’s sales. However when the boys find the possibility of life in Eden at Google via a Summer Internship program they set their sites on lifting their levels of Googliness. Vince Vaughan and Owen Wilson are the right pairing of partners in comedy crime. They exude just enough empathy phermones to reel you in and then slap on some easy humour through their humble failings.

As 100 interns fight in teams to win the holy grail of tech positions as a Google employee, Nick and Billy end up with the mixed bag of genius ‘outliers’ to fight from the bottom up. Socially awkward Stuart (Dylan O’Brien) can’t take his eyes of the 4? screen while Yo Yo (Tobit Raphael) overcomes an oppressive Mum syndrome to code his way to the top. Neha Patel (Tiya Sircar) is a young lady who has imagined life through cos-play and fanfic so her collision with the RL (real life) helps round out her life experience. You’ll enjoy the cameo of Will Ferrell but some great performances came from Josh Brener as Googler Lile and the terror of the Internship program Mr Chetty played by Aasif Mandvi. For anyone watching a typical Google I/O event you will be convinced Aasif is actually a member of the Google Exec. His edge of the anger management program delivery keeps the competition tense to the end.

The Internship is a that story teaches us a number of life lessons and I’m not just talking about the rules of Quidditch on a Google sports field. Its not just a Mary Poppins lesson with a spoonful of comedy sugar to let the medicine go down. Through the romance of Nick and Rose Byrne’s character we remember not to judge a book by its cover. When the maniacal leader ( Max Minghella) of a competitive team puts down his team members all with the appropriate evil English accent we learn how not to lead a team. But the best lesson of all is how a team of connected and intelligent young people learn that drawing on the life experience of their older team members they can have an edge in the competition.

The Internship was a great movie night out enjoyed by all the Air New Zealand guests streaming out of the theatre. It just goes to show you can laugh your way to your dreams and make a few Exchange-a-gram “on the line” friends along the way.

Rating: M: Sexual references.

Resurrection Year – Sheridan & Merryn Voysey

Resurrection YearBook Review: Resurrection Year by Sheridan Voysey

I made a mistake. I picked up Resurrection Year at 11pm one winter’s evening to read the opening chapter so I could decide whether I would enjoy reading this book with such an enticing title. At 3am I really had to put it down knowing I had work the next morning. The story of Sheridan and Merryn Voysey’s journey towards a Resurrection Year is deeply moving, personal and full of grating anguish. While I had a hint of knowing what was in store, it can’t prepare you for the way in which Sheridan rolls out years of stumbling steps towards a broken dream.

The story connects with all of us who have suffered loss or driven down a one way street thinking it was the short-cut to the ‘highway’. I had just recently suffered my own dead end street and I was reading ‘Resurrection Year to find the answer I had missed in my own journey. I thought Sheridan might have a magic answer. I hoped he had found the 12th step in some program where I’d only found 11. The reality is that Sheridan takes us through the heart-break of a journey that doesn’t as much go around the mountain as it instead goes up and over mountain after mountain experiencing the valley floor and then the pinnacle view, only to head to the valley again.

Sheridan’s writing takes you visually through their experience in a journey that travels around the world taking in the life of this Australian writer and broadcaster in his land down under before a trip to the romance of Europe and then embracing the life that a little flat in England might offer on the edge of Oxford University. As he looks for hope, Sheridan absorbs any possible hint of beauty in nature and architecture. It’s a picture of someone hungry for their dream and yet in the hopeless void of darkness still recognising the hope and beauty that is beaming through a crack in the experience.

Sheridan and Merryn Voysey

This is a story that many husbands and wives should read. Sometimes our dreams are known and realised and sometimes they were squashed a long time ago by an experience or layers of life’s silt that gathered. I believe Resurrection Year will be a catalyst for couples and individuals to talk about a journey that may have been placed on hold and may need a new itinerary for a new journey.

Through Sheridan’s writings we hear the heartbeat of his wife Merryn as she struggles through the pressure and pain of their desire to embrace parenthood. I most of all connected with Merryn’s determination to ‘get back in touch’ with the God she loved and believed in yet felt she was on the ‘do not call’ phone list of heaven.

Here we have a story that helps us understand the faith issues as a young couple seek to honour God in their life experience, yet having to evaluate what is their own role and what is God’s. The conundrum of looking at the prayer and practice of chasing a deeply seated desire is very clearly laid out as they recall events where seeking God seemed fruitless. You will probably relate as you read of prayer meetings where friends and strangers offered heartfelt prayers and advice that don’t seem to carry you any further towards the goal.

Resurrection Year will help rebuild hope, touch-up the faded picture of God’s heart in your life and most of all give us a framework on which fresh purpose can be designed.

Listen to Sheridan’s Interview on OpenHouse with Leigh Hatcher: Podcast Link

Sheridan’s Blog can be found here: SheridanVoysey.com

Buy the Book:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Koorong Australia
WORD Australia
Manna New Zealand

Movie Review: Snitch

Snitch

The latest Dwayne Johnson movie SNITCH takes ‘The Rock’ into a whole new area of drama with very pleasing results. The script is the result of one of the industry’s top stuntmen moving into the writing and directing end of the game. Ric Roman Waugh has been around for some time with celebrated work in Days of Thunder, Total Recall and Gone in 60 Seconds, but its his recent work that is opening up new opportunities with a creative storyline and a dramatic tension in the on screen results.

While ‘The Rock’ has a number of ”Dad’ roles to his credit like Tooth Fairy, The Game Plan and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island. On this outing we have some acting credibility and a script that gives us a sense of the real drama between a father disconnected from his son through divorce and the story that while unravelling around them, is the catalyst to bring them together.

In our story a young man dabbling on the edge of the temptation of drugs ends up being the patsy for a friend who is dealing. When an American law is utilised with mandatory sentencing the dealer turns over young Jason Collins to the police to secure his own freedom. The young English actor Rafi Gavron plays the beaten young idealist struggling with a missing father figure extremely well.

Its from here that Dad, John Matthews (The Rock) is brought into the scene by his ex-wife Sylvie played by NCIS NY actress, Melina Kanakaredes. The broken parents are desperate to get their son out of the system and trying to come to grips with how results seem more important than justice. With no hope of convincing the District Attorney, Joanne Keeghan (played by Susan Sarandon) of a reprieve, Johnson goes undercover with the DEA to catch a thief as bargaining power to secure his son’s release. Barry Pepper is a surprise revelation as a hippy like DEA agent who monitors Matthew’s movements. Its a unique cast of characters that help create some suspense as you try to read between the lines of the story.

Its a great dramatic thriller as a Dad with love to gain and a life to sacrifice puts his company and the reputation of both families on the line for his son. Benjamin Pratt brings his villainy up to speed as Drug Lord Juan Carlos ‘El Topo’ Pintera while Michael Kenneth Williams rules the local roost as drug dealer Malik. Their will always be those who are detractors of any movie featuring the biceps of Dwayne Johnson on the movie poster but this is a great movie.

Rating: M: Drug use & violence.

Movie Review: Olympus has Fallen

Movie Review: Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus has Fallen is more than a routine action genre movie outing. Director, Antoine Fuqua, does a superb job of orchestrating his cast from the personal confrontations to the plot’s cliff hanger precipice. The story surrounds a very topical assault on American soil by a North Korean militant rebellion force. Their target is to acquire the President in the White House and the American secret service seems to simply capitulate in their path.

Rewind the clock and we are introduced early on to top Secret Service agent and Presidential body guard, Mike Banning played by Gerard Butler. The Machine Gun Preacher has taken his gruff Scottish he-man and put the persona in a suit with an ear-piece. We see some relevant backstory when Banning makes a call that sees a key character die and the President’s reaction as he arranges for Banning to be out of sight and out of mind. The timing couldn’t be worse as our Terrorist forces hit with war like impact led by Kang to capture the President and key government members in the bunker of the White House. You may remember Kang played by Rick Yune from his role as the villain’s key 2nd in command in Die Another Day. This time he delivers a more commanding confident performance that should set him up for more roles in the future.

Butler is a superb ‘man against the world’ actor in a role that is reminiscent of John McClane only more believable. The violence of the movie is incessant and not for the faint of heart as first the North Korean forces make their attack on the White House taking down American civilians in a blatant display of disruptive power. Next the movie kicks down a gear in the dimensions of action but steps up the intensity as Banning goes one on one with anyone untrustworthy.

At the focus of our story is President Asher played by Aaron Earkhart. I’d vote for this guy on ‘chin’ presence alone! I’m seriously surprised he hasn’t had any super hero roles. Earkhart plays the diplomat, the staunch leader and the vulnerable family man in a great combination role.

In the backdrop we have a US government trying to regain control of a situation that could bring nuclear consequences to the world. The Speaker of the House played by Morgan Freeman keeps the military in check while Angela Bassett heads up the Secret Service and keeps the lines of communication going with Banning on the inside.

It’s a great formulaic action movie with a plot we’ve seen before but not with as great a commitment to the fine tuning of the whole movie experience. Kudos must go to Antoine Fuqua and Gerard Butler whose combined talent makes this a brilliant action genre movie that others should emulate.

Interesting that similar to another outing Fuqua had when he directed Mark Wahlberg in Shooter while another movie with similar story was being created in the same year with Wesley Snipes. This time there is another terrorist in the White House movie coming up with Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx on board directed by Roland Emmerich and called White House Down. As always I recommend going first in any sport to set the bar high which Olympus Has Fallen has done. Let’s see what happens in round two.

3.5 out of 5 popcorns

Movie Review: Oblivion

Oblivion

The silent stalker movie of the year is likely to be Oblivion. As a movie it seemed to only have the Tom Cruise cheerleaders and a poster bearing the guru like presence of Morgan Freeman to entice us. We’ve seen the trailers to give us a sense that this SciFi story could have some legs but there appears to be a lack of the usual Hollywood marketing hype that you might expect. After an evening in IMAX heaven I can now tell you this is a must see event for the popcorn loving alien paranoid movie goers amongst us.

Brought to life by Joseph Kosinski, the comic book writer, architect come Director of Tron, it exudes every essence of the phrase ‘Visual Masterpiece’. Kosinski has drawn on his architectural prowess to deliver a mesh of landscapes and man-made collaborations in a post-Apocalyptic world. The locations predominantly were shot across the US with CGi bringing iconic structures into play but many of the scenes drew on locations in Iceland to deliver a picture of a world rocked by earthquakes and a land slowly becoming devoid of water. The story for this movie was something Kosinski had been working on as a graphic novel since 2005. It was this story that first brought him to the attention of the movie makers although his initial director’s chair role was to helm TRON: Legacy.

As we begin the Oblivion story we find Jack and Victoria played by Tom Cruise and Andrea Riseborough filling the role of the maintenance crew on planet earth. We’re told the war was hard won but 60 years ago we overcame the invaders. By destroying earth’s moon they had left planet Earth in an unlivable state. Now the maintenance team are taking care of the creation of fusion energy from the left over sea water. Energy that will keep man alive for years to come on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. All is well for Jack with only two weeks before he and Victoria can sign-off on their tour of duty and join the rest of the migration to Saturn.

But something doesn’t sit well in Jack’s sub-conscious and the memories of a life not lived haunt him in his dreams. As events trigger, synapse connections become clues and we start to see the world that was hidden from Jack’s gaze. What seemed like a semi-idyllic task maintaining defence drones against the last of the alien invaders becomes a search for answers. And when you think you know your enemy the shock comes when its discovered your enemy knows you better.

The concept of man’s survival has often been played out against the backdrop of saving millions or protecting the Utopian planet we love. In this story we seem to have lost all the things worth fighting for which make it a personal discovery about what’s important. Oblivion is keyly about a well crafted story and surrounding this is the artistry of a well sculpted set, painted with faultless passion and design. Kosinski beautifully handles the camera to take you from the vista of a fallen planet to the man on tech confrontations that bring you up close to the eyes and sweating pores of man desperate to survive.

I’m giving Oblivion 4.5 out of 5 popcorns. Loved it!

Rating: M: Contains Violence & Nudity

FILMGUIDE rating:

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G.I. Joe: Retaliation opens this week to renew our love of unrealistic action adventures built around comic characters and buff heroes. “Easy”, you say as you wonder how hard I’m going to come down on this comic adventure. Well this might be a mixed review covered by a Dad and his 13 year-old son who together saw the 3D version from Step Up director Jon M. Chu.

With a line-up including Channing Tatum, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and Bruce Willis you have a feel that this won’t be a thriller for the mind. To his credit I think Jon M. Chu caught the essence of the G.I. Joe character as more action comic than serious drama. The costumes, explosions and gun size all contribute to a not so real ride. While most of the stunts give a sense of martial arts wow factor some of the effects were so unreal you felt back in comic book mode.

Hasbro must be over the moon with the extra publicity their plastic super doll gets out of the G.I.Joe movie franchise. Even if its not quite targeted at a 7 year-old boy’s birthday party present list, the 28 year-old fathers and 52 year-old granddads will probably be buying all the right toys for the children and grand-children.

Our story follows a betrayed G.I. Joe division trying to recover from an event that depletes its numbers of super soldiers. In the backdrop this was all part of a plan by Cobra to put the safety of the world at risk and due for annihilation unless the leader’s of the nuclear world bow their heads to the evil overlord. All of the betrayal is washed in murky waters due to an evil President in part played by Jonathan Pryce with a psychitzo performance. World Leaders are running around with their heads cut off while the boys and girl in camouflage khaki renew their armoury from the kitchen cupboards of retired General Joe Colton played by Bruce Willis. Out of the kitchen and into the fire, the G.I. Joes start the road back to freedom and save the day.

The cast is dressed up by some ‘beautiful people’ performances from D J Cotrona as Flint and Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye. Elodie Yung as Jinx and Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow give us the martial arts performance and its the reliable Ray Park as Snake Eyes who gives us the strong silent type.

Be prepared to ask ‘Why’ when lead characters don’t last the distance. It was a reminder to me of when a lead actor on the movie poster left ‘Executive Decision’ in the first 15 minutes to keep an audience going… ‘What Happened!’ Equally another supposed lead actor might have had 30 seconds of screen time and half of that was as a photo on a computer screen. I’d love to know how much their paying for appearance money these days.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a mixed bag. The 3D is well filmed and plays right into the comic book style setting. The story isn’t strong but its always hard to write a script with seven one-liners and four explosions per page. All up it was a fun night out for a 13 year-old who said it wasn’t as good as Avengers but it was good!

3 out of 5 popcorns

Getting Married – Flying on the Trapeze

Pitchford Wedding

Today many couples say that they want to ‘try out’ the relationship first before getting married. Their rationale is that by living together they want to ‘try before they buy’ so they don’t make the mistake of marrying the wrong person. On the surface it seems logical. After all, why not measure twice and cut once? But what is lost in the equation is that they’re losing sight of the difference between flying on the trapeze with a safety net and flying without. It’s a unique aspect of life that kicks us into a higher gear where we perform with greater commitment and our brain, stamina and heart lift to a higher level. I don’t know if you’ve seen the cartoon with the pig and the hen. The hen is telling of its wonderful eggs made available to breakfast plates of bacon and eggs everywhere when the pig jumps in. He cuts to the chase saying, “Huh! For you it’s a contribution but for me its total commitment!”

In my work in the media we can now pre-record audio and video before we broadcast the production. Somehow in the brain that lets us off the hook as a presenter to make a few mistakes, delete the recording and do it again. I know from personal experience, whether on stage or behind the microphone that I’m actually better when its live. You know its got to work and you draw on all your training and creativity to make it a success. The one thing I’ve learned in our marriage is that it’s not a dress rehearsal, its a live performance.

These days it seems we’ve scared a lot of people out of the joy of marriage by the horror stories of divorces gone wrong and mismatched personalities. Sadly they’ve had more publicity through TV soaps, movies and the 6 o’clock news than the successful stories of loving marriages. Why do we only hear about marriage success if a couple makes it to 50 or 60 years? One thing I love about our church is that every Sunday you can go up the front for a free Crunchie chocolate bar if you have something to celebrate from getting your driver’s licence to the arrival of your first grand-child. Every week married couples go up celebrating their wedding anniversary. I love hearing that a couple are in their 14th, 29th or 40th year of marriage and then to see them go up and walk back hand in hand. We seem to have a generation that thinks they will last longer in marriage if they wait till they’re older and yet I would say I’ve seen a majority of young love marriages be the ones that last to say they started strong and finished stronger.

Cheryl and I have known each other for 24 years and we will soon be celebrating our 22nd Wedding Anniversary. This year we are heading away for a weekend at a beach. We probably can only afford to do this kind of thing every 4-5 years but it’s always worth it. I know that through those years we’ve had moments where we wondered how we could keep going. Sometimes it was a big problem but more often than not our pride stumbled on a small stone in the road. I’ve often found we can resolve the issues pretty quick its the part where we have to humble ourselves that actually is the hardest piece of the puzzle.

The best advertisement for marriage is marriage. The photo above shows my stunning babe on our Wedding Day when she was 19 years-old. We still speak of her as my ‘China Doll’, she looked so stunning. We’re a happily married couple with four beautiful kids who we love dearly. As our children are in the 13 to 20 age-group we are starting to enter a new phase of life as we have more adult life experience conversation with them. This is adding to our marriage and giving us a great privilege as Mum and Dad to be involved in our kids life decisions. This is also a pivotal year as our eldest daughter is engaged and preparing for getting married later in the year. What an incredible opportunity for us as parents. We can be inspired by their young warm smitten love and at the same time be able to grab the moment to model a marriage worth pursuing.

We are so proud to have brought them into this world and as I look at the photos around our house of our lives together I can see what value there is in a marriage built without a safety net. We haven’t relied on divorce as an out, or a prenuptial agreement as an exit clause but instead we’ve flown high on the trapeze. We’ve enjoyed the view and the thrills knowing that we need to keep our eyes on God as our ‘catcher’ for this amazing experience. I know we have friends and family who have had to walk through the pain of divorce and we know it isn’t a path they wanted to choose. The life lesson that has kept me honest to the man in the mirror is that I can’t let myself have an out if I’m going to be the best husband, lover, Dad and friend to my wife and family.

Tell your family and friends about what has inspired, taught and challenged you as your marriage has grown. You never know who is looking on and thinking of getting married. And guys, lets not leave it to the ladies to tell the romantic stories to the next generation. A happy bloke is a husband who feels secure with his wife and isn’t afraid to sneak a kiss in front of the kids.