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New Year Noose

The old New Year is dead: long live the New!

Here's a post much overdue. I started writing it as the days of 2018 started rolling by, as I like a lost soul skimmed old blog posts in search for answers to questions I could not pose... and did not know. New beginnings always bring with them some sort of sense of revelation.

I found some things. Reading up on last year's New Year post I saw my nephew was here for a few days then, too. We visited museums then. No museums now, but otherwise it was a very familiar visit.

Otherwise? I missed the blood moon. Rain clouds obscured the sky.

I'm falling behind with Walking Dead now, but that doesn't matter much. Should be easy to catch up on whenever there's no other more important items on queue... and honestly I'm getting a bit tired of that series. Too much filler. Too much repetition. It's gone from a journey towards a finite end to... just another day in the life of. The villain still looms, but there'll always be a new threat looming, and no matter how vicious they get it's just getting old at this point. But more on that whenever I do catch up on it.

I'm still hoping it might get better again. Season after season. Hope.

It's pretty amazing to read back on the post from the start of the year and realize that the things I talk about there happened exactly one year ago now... like my computer RAM upgrade project. That fell flat after a while.

I actually reinstalled my old RAM on my current computer since the new caused some random boot issues and I couldn't figure out what was wrong... so I'm back to 3GB since the start of last year, when I could have been up at 4GB, but it's been working fine and dandy since then. Just a little slower than it could have been.

Not sure if I got around to upgrading the RAM on my other rig... I think I did. Some vague recollections of actually buying that expensive set I pondered getting come to mind... but I'm not sure I managed to change the bus speeds via BIOS after all...

I bought way too much stuff last year. Overall. Time to slow down a bit. Think things through. I'm not one to waste money on expensive things, but even when prices are cheap it all amounts... and better buy one good thing that comes in handy every day than a lot of semi-good things that you keep around for times when they might be useful... that sometimes do become useful and sometimes don't. Especially when they don't.

My no-shopping obsession hmm... I never did explain that did I? It was a thing where I just had to go through a shops inventory in its entirety before I could decide not to buy something. My rationale to overcome the temptation, when I did overcome it: there's not enough there.

I'd add things to the shopping cart, and find more and more, and then go through the cart and pick things off one at a time. Don't need that. Don't need that. Might need THAT but... why order anything at all if it's just that one thing. That turned to a shopping obsession later on, but with this new year: I'm over that. It's over. No more unnecessary shopping. No more waste of time or money on things I don't need or really want. Really.

But enough about shopping - how about dreams?

At the start of the year, when I first started writing this, I dreamt I was in Spain. I was on a dirt field searching for something in the dirt. The whole family was there too. There was a road around one side, and we had parked at the edge of the field for some reason, when a gigantic black tornado swept over the horizon.

It grew dark and ominous fast, and we knew we'd better move out of the open, yet didn't have time to, and realized this was OK too because the tornado wasn't coming our way anyway.

Moments later we were under a hospital roof all the same, like the one in GTA 3 (Staunton Island), watching the spectacle in the sky. How we got there I did not know. Some people said something to us in Spanish but we didn't understand (which is strange because I do understand Spanish).

Then I was on a train, playing card games with a bunch of kids, shuffling the deck like crazy and amazing even myself. Hands like a wizard.

That was all. That was my First Day Of The New Year Dream.

What else? A little greeting I wanted to post last Christmas: Merry Christmas and may many very merry days await thereafter, before the New Year takes the rafter! But here we are already, and those Merry days are long past.

It's a New Year, still. Better make it count,
and post some great amounts.

Angels & Demons (2009)

Angels & Demons (2009)

I was naive to believe everything could end so well in this one... and it didn't... but still it did. It never ends quite like you'd expect it to with these. I also didn't believe any sequel could trump the first but... I'm not sure anymore. I mean this one did trump the original! Majorly. Holy hell.

This was a story of the Vatican and the Illuminati - of infiltrators and intrigue, and the Holy War they wage(d). It's also about the bond and conflict between science and religion, in which the main element and threat here is an anti-matter device.

As the Pope dies, and a new one is to be selected, four cardinals and a special kind of bomb are kidnapped/stolen, and hidden at the heart of the city. Robert Landon is called in once again to save the world and hopefully find all five. This time he's called in by a more official decree. The most official you get... in circles of the church, at least. Prepare for a world of intrigue and inner power struggle of the Vatican, no less!

I can't imagine the level of controversy this one must have stirred up when it first came out, and maybe that's why they (unfortunately) toned things down in the sequel. Once again I feel like they present everything in the best way though, in one that'd appease both Believer and Searcher... but who knows, I'm the latter so I'm probably a little bit biased. It's a fact that this one has the greatest IMDB rating of all three though, controversy or no, so maybe I'm not alone in my verdict. Or maybe this movie was just so good that it rose above the controversy.

The name seemed almost too much in the beginning, with such an strong and obvious religious connotation, but as the plot grows so does the significance of the name, and when it's all over you really can't argue: it's merited.

This was the best one yet. The best in the series. As merciless and manipulative as ever, with majestic music, sceneries, and showdowns to match. My belief is strong: my judgment's all but rash.

 rated 5/5: friggin awesome

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

The Da Vinci Code (2006)

At the crossroads of Christianity I stand... and it sure is inspiring!

Professor Robert Langley (Tom Hanks) is the main character here, accompanied by the dark and beautiful Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) - the daughter to an old friend who one night is killed at The Louvre in France.

A police officer (Jean Reno) shows up intent on proving that Robert is the murderer, and they embark on both an escape and a chase - escape from what turns out to be a bigger threat than just the police, and a chase after the very foundation of Christian faith: the Holy Grail.

The movie doesn't just use this as an excuse to weave together a plot of mystery and myth though: it explains it. It delves into a realm somewhere between fact and fiction, teaching me things I didn't know but am sure are factual - like the story behind the superstitious-sounding Friday 13th, and explores theories I'm not always sure are just theories. It intrigues and convinces. I'm teetering somewhere on the border between fantasy and faith... and it's fantastic.

It does this in a way I can't imagine would offend either Agonistic or Christian, too. I wish more religious movies were like this. Questioning. Teaching. Weaving a story into the very fabric of the religious world, and with that almost inviting me inside. The persons portrayed, the scenery, setting, the puzzle and plot... it all makes for a masterful thriller as well, with other characters portrayed by such talents as Ian McKellen.

At times it's morbid and dark; at times dreamy and inspiring; awash with long lost bits and pieces of our fascinating human heritage. There are believers and fanatics (props to Paul Bettany on the latter well-done) as well as non-believers and... victims of circumstance. The intrigue is all but basic.

I didn't realize Inferno was the third part to the 'Robert Langdon' trilogy when I watched it, but suspicions brought me back to the beginning... and I'm about to watch the middle one next.

The build-up is masterful so far - in both of these. Intense and interesting, with each one exploring relics of the ancients and bringing them into our modern day world. Anagrams seem to be a reoccurring method of communication, and it is a bit dark sometimes (in regard to the filming), but other than that it was perfect.

It could be a whole genre of its own, this series. I love the style, and hope to read the books this summer. I know they're there already, so far I just never had a compelling reason to take them off their bookshelf.

I most definitely do now.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Inferno (2016)

Inferno (2016)

When Robert Langdon wakes up in an Italian hospital with amnesia, he teams up with Dr. Sienna Brooks, and together they must race across Europe against the clock to foil a deadly global plot.

Overpopulation... that's the problem. The big one. And this movie the ever so relevant. They race against the clock to find clues that might lead them to the bomb, and it's not so much a trail of them as a puzzle - closely tied to the works of Dante and his old perception of hell that's still in use today.

The chase is both intense and enlightening, with plenty of twists along the way, and visions Langdon keeps getting due to his head injury... that in the end remain inexplicable. They build up a dark and sinister atmosphere surrounding the main characters, even when it's broad daylight, and both Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones are great as the main duo.

Ben Foster plays the philanthropist and villain - though in most of the movie his character is already dead, so all they can do is follow his trail of mementos and listen to his post-mortem speeches - all the while chased by shady agencies of which Ana Ularu, Irrfan Khan and Omar Sy are like the representative (all but holy) trinity.

It all reminded a bit of The Da Vinci Code... not just because it's got the same main actor. Directed by the same guy? It's... part of the same trilogy?! I need to catch up! This one was great, and considering what I've heard of the former those might be even better. I appreciate the authenticity of it all, and the plot twists in particular.

In the end it's a dark thriller with a highly relevant and relatable plot. Overpopulation... how do we solve it? Does it solve itself? Considering these books previous ties to religion I can't help but pull a parallel to Catholicism, which encourages family; IOW a lot of kids. And maybe most major religions do the same considering the spread they get. I know at least Islam does too. Only Buddhism, which doesn't, seems to be on a steady decline. It's how they spread their legacy after all.

I guess teaching doesn't spread by truth so much as by circumstance after all, even if all major current religions have ties to one another in some way. If reincarnation isn't a topic of one of these movies already it sure could be. That'd probably stir up some controversy (do research if you're curious).

Anyway, even if the ties to religious elements don't seem as prevalent as they could have been I did enjoy this movie. Since the others have always been heavy with not just religious references but matters of moral and religious obligation - not so much simply personal ones as here, I'm curious if the book took a different approach and this was toned down.

In closing, a few truthful/eyeopening/mediating quotes from the movie:

There have been five... major... extinctions... in the Earth's history... and unless we take bold, immediate action... the sixth extinction... will be our own.

It took the Earth's population 100,000 years to reach a billion people. And then just 100 more to reach two billion.

The greatest sins in human history have been committed in the name of love.

It's almost as if a time's coming for: Hell on Earth. Though the movie itself didn't weigh as heavily as the previous, the topic was definitely the most relevant one yet. It makes you think... even if you'd rather not.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015)

Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015)

Here's a franchise I'd pretty much forgotten all about!

I'm still not sure I've seen any of the prequels, but the Tremors rang a few bells. It made me wonder if this really was the fifth or if it just had a 5 to make it seem like there had been many before it... but the five was no lie! It's an old franchise and still alive! I need to see some of the prequels too.

It's like a B-movie meets National Geographic, with impressive props, special effects, and some pretty tough characters. Seems some animals were definitely harmed in the making of this movie though. I guess it's Africa after all. South Africa, to be precise, and the new people we meet there all fit the mold perfectly. Den Bravers most of all!

All the talk of Graboids and Assblasters I could do without (they gave me a dubious first impressions of how the movie would turn out too) but when it comes to the action I am impressed! They get that grindhouse vibe down to the last brittle letter. From the blood to the guns to the billowing sand.

Michael Gross and Jamie Kennedy play the main guys, Pearl Thusi the main girl and... well there's a few more and they were all great, what more can I say? I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's not blockbuster quality, but it is a B-movie at it's very best. No doubt.

Here's a pretty spot on summary from one IMDB review: it's a old school popcorn movie with some bad-ass monsters.

 rated 3/5: not bad

Collide (2016)

Collide (2016)

Here's a romantic action movie about a guy who leaves his criminal life for a girl, but goes back for a single heist when it's revealed she desperately needs a kidney transplant and they just don't have the money.

Of course she doesn't want him to, but he does so anyway, and what a mess it all becomes! But it is a pretty romantic thing to do, right?

The story may seem a bit cliche, but they do it right. With lights, and music, and hugs and kisses and vicious chases, crashes and shoot-outs along both highway and picturesque cobblestone village streets (it's a bumpy ride).

Nicholas Hoult plays the lead role for most of the movie, Felicity Jones his girl, and Anthony Hopkins the big bad wolf - with help from Ben Kingsley. They're an appreciated contrast and part of the intrigue. Also big props to Erdal Yildiz as major tough guy, and Ed Wild for some amazing cinematography. They really capture the essence of it all.

Felicity feels somewhat one-sided in their relationship, Nicholas seems to get almost too many lucky escapes, bullets miss with precision sometimes, and Hopkins talks away a bit of his character - but apart from those few things this was great all the way through. Expect nice cars, lots of chase and gritty action sequences... intertwined with bright lights and love you's.

And at least a couple of soon very familiar songs. It all collides.

 rated 4/5: fo shizzle

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