Film


Binary Sunset in Star Wars: A New Hope

I saw The Last Jedi at the end of last year, and a little late with my thoughts on the film, but wanted to get my opinion down here. The Last Jedi was a nice mix of story, CGI and nostalgia. I liked it much better that “The Force Awakens”. JJ Abrams is ok in technical ways as a director, but I feel he really just doesn’t understand the Star Wars and Star Trek genre. Rian Johnson did as good a job as he could in The Last Jedi with the arc of the story as it is (basically a reboot of the 1st trilogy). I felt a real emotional resonance with the nostalgia in The Last Jedi, something I didn’t get with The Force Awakens. There’s plenty to like in The Last Jedi that connects back to the original trilogy. Mark Hamill was superb as an older Luke Skywalker and handled what he was given to work with quite well.

Spoiler alert: I especially liked the scene where Luke makes a visit to the Millennium Falcon. It’s one of those “I’m back” moments. Then he meets R2D2 again, who plays the Leia hologram from Star Wars: A New Hope. The whole scene was spot on and brought the emotion and nostalgia back home. I did enjoy the appearance of Yoda also. At first when I saw the Yoda ears I thought it might be corny, but it was really quite touching and made better by the fact that it wasn’t CGI Yoda, but puppet Yoda from the Empire Strikes Back. Bravo!

An older, more bitter Skywalker is brought out of his self indulgent exile by these things, R2D2 displaying the ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi’ message and Yoda giving Young Skywalker, as he calls him, a reminder Jedi Lesson. He rejoins the fight with the spirit of his youth, and it is heartfelt in the film showdown. Alas, Luke is spent by the effort projecting himself across the stars, and he ends as he began with a binary star sunset, as that familiar background music builds. Luke goes out as Obi-Wan and Yoda did. This is a classy end to Skywalker, and much more dignified than what JJ gave Han Solo. Rian Johnson definitely knows how to handle the Star Wars material.

Overall, The Last Jedi is like watching two films with separate, but linked story lines – one the Resistance vs the 1st Order, the other the Jedi Master Skywalker and Jedi novice Rey. It works, and while some liberties are taken with The Force that we’ve never seen before, the story is all brought together in the end that is satisfying. The humor hits all the marks, the CGI is great, the nostalgia pulls at the emotions and the story plays out in a reasonable way, which I liked. I enjoyed the extended parts for Leia and Luke, though in separate story lines. Hamill was especially good with his performance.

Not sure where the story goes from here, but it’s the final phase for Luke, Leia and Han Solo. Some conclusion can be brought to this trilogy with the new characters in Episode IX. For me, the Lucas story line is a complete with Episodes I-VI, and this trilogy of Episodes VII-IX is something separate, a different story than Lucas would have told. Whether one likes the prequels or not, Episodes I-III, Lucas was a story teller and always gave something fresh. The sequel trilogy is basically a retelling of the original trilogy in the story arc, not particularly original, but enjoyable from a nostalgic perspective and getting some new characters of interest to build on.

Maybe there is another trilogy going forward with the new characters, but they need a fresh story line to keep me engaged in this franchise. JJ needs to stay out of it as director also, and let Rian Johnson or others handle it. Rian is better at the Star Wars saga and understands the material deeper I think. What I might like to see someday is to go back in time, far back, to the Old Republic, and tell the story of the Jedi and Sith, how the original Empire eventually came to be and such. There’s a few thousand years of things to cover there with original story telling. We’ll see where it all goes in the hands of Disney and hope they don’t drive it into a ditch with repetitive stories.

I liked The Last Jedi, well enough that I would give it multiple viewings, a feeling I didn’t have with The Force Awakens. Hats off to Rian Johnson for bringing the Star Wars saga back home with some emotional nostalgia. I’ll also be looking forward now to see what comes in Episode IX for a conclusion.

May the Force be with you, always…

Advertisements


As I did at the end of 2013, 2014 & 2015, so I do again here at the end of 2017 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I did not post anything about my travels at the end of 2016, so this years post will cover my travels from 2016 and 2017. I need not give the setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notable travels from 2016 & 2017 (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:







That’s the summary for 2016 & 2017. For the previous years travels, I include the links here for convenience, but all blog links can be found in the “Browse Blog Posts” at the top of the page.

Travels of Spocklogic
Travels of Spocklogic II
Travels of Spocklogic III

All in all, it was a good couple of years in travel with a visit to France in early 2016, visits to Sicily and Central Italy in the summer of 2016, and a trip to the Shenandoah region of Virginia in the fall of 2016. For this later blog on Shenandoah, I included a couple of other trips there with one from 2000 and another from 2005. Over the years, since I have lived in the state of Virginia, I have visited this area of the state maybe a dozen or so times, but I don’t have photos for all the visits there, and just the years 2000, 2005 and 2016. I also have a Virginia blog called “Virginia Perspectives” covering 1990-present that is a mix of travel & slice of life. The year 2017 consisted of a road trip to New England in the early summer and a trip to Brazil in late summer, my first trip to South America, making it my 5th continent to visit. There is also another blog I made on Places in Passing, which consists of entries regarding places I mentioned in passing, but did not write about in great detail. I have plans to fill in the narratives, but for now the entries display  photos and a reference link to a blog where the place was mentioned.

For a complete collection of blogs, one can always visit Spocklogic’s Travel Blogs at TravBuddy.

Best wishes for the New Year in 2018!

 

Keep on Trekkin

As I did at the end of 2013 & 2014, so I do again here at the end of 2015 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year (travel blogs I finished or made additions to) include:

feature-Erice2014-lgFeature-Indian_Wedding

Feature - Washington DC-1

Feature-China_2014

Feature-Spocklogics_TravBuddy_Meetups

 

That’s the summary for 2015. Some are carry overs from 2014, but I finished the blogs in 2015, after my last post on travels (see: Travels of Spocklogic II) in December 2014 or earlier if I made additions. As I alluded to in recent entries, I will take a break from this Cogito Ergo blog for a while in 2016. I’ve had 20 years of internet exposure and been blogging for 10 years (see: 20 Years of Internet and Mapping the Internet). I hope to return again with a fresh perspective down the line. There’s plenty to explore in the Cogito Ergo blog archives until then (see the link to: Browse Blog Posts). Best wishes for the New Year 2016! See you in the future…

bones-travels-through-time

kirk-and-spock-travel-back-in-time-to-2014

As I did at the end of 2013, so I do again here at the end of 2014 to recount some travel experiences, which I don’t normally write about here. I need not give the whole setup again for the premise of such entries and see my blog from the end of 2013: Travels of Spocklogic. The notables this year are a couple of blogs I finished and some reviews that may be of interest:

spocklogic_Lyon-France_travel_blog.
spocklogic_Wroclaw-Poland_travel_blog.

spocklogic_Kirin-Hot-Pot_review.spocklogic_Long-Chao-Shou_review.
spocklogic_Ram-Pam-Pam-Pam_review.spocklogic_Raclawice-Panorama_review

That summarizes some travel selections for 2014. I did travel to Italy also in July 2014, and have some links to share for photo collections I put together for a special year in Erice to celebrate a 40th anniversary of the International School of Atomic and Molecular Spectroscopy (ISAMS):

Rino: 40 Year Erice Celebrations (2014) – Erice, Italy
2014 Erice Workshop: 30 July – August 5 – Erice, Italy
People (2014) – Erice, Italy
Places (2014)
– Erice, Italy

In addition, I traveled to China again this year in November 2014, but am still working on my travel blog for that, so it will have to wait until my 2015 account of my travels. I will make this type of entry something traditional at years end to cover where I have been and what I have done in travel ways. It’s all rather like the City on the Edge of Forever perhaps…

city_on_the_edge_of_forever-kirk&spock

 

 

drspock

I don’t often write about my travels in this WordPress blog (Cogito Ergo) as I have another site for that (TravBuddy). In this year of 2013, I completed a number of travel blogs on that site that are worth noting and I give the links to them here. Mind you, I don’t know that any of my travel blogs are ever really completed. Each one is like a child I nurture and raise up, but always needs attention in future ways. Anyway, I suppose I list them here for my own reference and also to offer it to others who may be interested in my travels. There is some connection of the blogs, one to another in embedded personal ways, but are also self-contained. Here they are:

Spocklogic_DC_Travel_Blog

.

Spocklogic_Italy_Travel_Blog.

Spocklogic_Switzerland_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Germany_Travel Blog.

Spocklogic_Travel_Topics.

Spocklogic_China_Blog.

Some of these blogs have been posted for some years, and I either added to them, made them more complete, and/or formed connections between them. Some of them are entirely new in 2013. They do tell a story in total I suppose and maybe that’s why I decided to make a sort of review of the Travels of Spocklogic here. They were also all the blogs featured on TravBuddy for me this year. My Italy blog (L’Avventura Dell Italia) seems never-ending and I have some more work to do on it, but the majority of important events are there for the most part. The last one in this list, the blog on China, is something I am still working on too, but intend (or hope) to complete it before the end of 2013. I suppose this collection of blogs forms a personal journey of sorts that I tried to form this year regarding my life and relation to travel. When I finish the China blog, maybe I will know what I have been endeavoring to understand and ultimately discover in my life. It’s not a teaser, or cliffhanger, but maybe more a matter of what I will embrace. Sounds enigmatic I suppose, but not really. It’s my personal perspective, the choices I make and what is ultimately best for me in a world of possibilities…

knowyourspock-1

tthe_best_exotic_marigold_hotel_1

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Perfect name for pensioner’s and I like the subtitles too.

I recently saw a 2012 British comedy-drama film called The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, based on the 2004 novel These Foolish Things by Deborah Moggach. The story is about a group of British retirees who go to India seeking a more affordable way of life at the Marigold Hotel, a place set up for this very purpose by a young Indian entrepreneur named Sonny Kapoor.  The main cast of British characters, around which the plot is constructed, present a splendid ensemble of seasoned actors including Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton. Maybe it doesn’t sound all that interesting, but I’ve watched it twice now and enjoyed it as much, if not more, the second time through. I never pay too much attention to reviews for entertainment purposes, and it’s a subjective thing whether one person or another enjoys a film, but sometimes the analytics do matter – plot, scripting, casting, cinematography, shooting locale, etc. This blog is not a review about the film for entertainment, not an analytical assessment of its construction, but what it may be about is my personal reflection on what I found thought provoking, engaging and/or touching.

the_best_exotic_marigold_hotel_2

Film cast (L to R): Maggie Smith (Muriel Donnelly), Ronald Pickup (Norman Cousins), Bill Nighy (Douglas Ainslie), Penelope Wilton (Jean Ainslie), Celie Imrie (Madge Hardcastle), Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade), and Tom Wilkinson (Graham Dashwood)

I found the character study interesting in exploring the past history and personalities of the people engaged me. Their life circumstances and what brought them to the Marigold was not far-fetched at all and their interaction was true to life I thought. Each had their own story and coming together in India provided a  venue for some self expression. Maybe a plot contrivance for this, but a good one. It’s a geriatric collection of people, but I found myself relating to them in interesting ways and enjoying their expressions in thought and feelings, but without the stereotypes of older folks usually portrayed I think. I found it sort of a coming to terms with old-age story, but not in an end of life way, but in a new beginnings way – which just goes to show you how age is a relative thing. I am and have been a traveler in my life too, so the thematic situation in location appealed to me also as I have visited India myself. I won’t belabor the point here and you can see the film for yourself, but one aspect of the film I found very thoughtful and moving were the voice over monologues by the character of Evelyn (played by Judi Dench) in the form of letters to her son, or perhaps a blog. I’d like to share them here because I couldn’t really find them collected anywhere and thought they should be. They give the film some cohesion in life affirming statements dispersed at appropriate moments, and delivered by Judi Dench in perfect pitch portraying life as the character of Evelyn Greenslade.

Evelyn writes from the Marigold Hotel, Jaipur (done as a monologue voice over):

Day 9:
Old habits die easier than we think, and new ones form. No longer do I reach out in the morning for Radio 4. My news comes instead from the Jaipur Herald. Soon, I might even grow accustomed to the storm of car horns and vendors. Can there be anywhere else in the world that is such an assault on the senses? Those who know the country of old just go about their business. But nothing prepares the uninitiated  for this riot of noise and color; for the heat, the motion, the perpetual teeming crowds. Sonny is conducting his own personal assault on our senses with a flow of exotic dishes he demands daily from the kitchen. Mooli moong dal, bagara baingan, banjara gosht, paneer methi chaman, mutton vindaloo. Initially, you’re overwhelmed. But gradually you realize it’s like a wave. Resist and you’ll be knocked over. Dive into it, and you’ll swim out the other side. This is a new and different world. The challenge is to cope with it, and not just cope, but thrive.

Day 22:
Like Darwin’s finches, we are slowly adapting to our environment. And when one does adapt, my god, the riches that are available. There is no past that we can bring back by longing for it. Only a present that builds and creates itself as the past withdraws.

Day 45:
Of course, it was inevitable. Put enough old people in the same place, and it won’t be too long before one of them goes. Graham died of a heart condition which he’d had for many years, so he knew before he left that he would not be coming back. He wanted to die in India, he just didn’t want any of us to know. He kept his promise to take me to Udaipur. Manoj wanted him to have a Hindu burial there by the lake at the place they had visited together. Not a holy place, although for them perhaps it was. It takes a long time for a body to be consumed. Many hours for the mourners to remember their dead. The fire must be lit at dawn and by sunset there must be nothing left but ash. Is it our friend we are grieving for whose life we knew so little, or is it our own loss that we are mourning? Have we traveled far enough that we can allow our tears to fall?

Day 51:
The only real failure is the failure to try, and the measure of success is how we cope with disappointment, as we always must. We came here and we tried, all of us in our different ways. Can we be blamed for feeling that we are too old to change? Too scared of disappointment to start it all over again. We get up in the morning, we do our best. Nothing else matters. But it’s also true that the person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing. All we know about the future is that it will be different. Perhaps what we fear is that it will be the same. So we must celebrate the changes, because as someone once said. “Everything will be alright at the end, and if it’s not alright, then trust me,  it’s not yet the end”.

the_best_exotic_marigold_hotel_3

Judi Dench (Evelyn Greenslade) writing and making Marigold Monologues.

There are only four of these monologues in the film, which I carefully wrote down on my second watching of the film in order to share them here. If you’ve seen the film already, then they are reproduced here for your enjoyment and further pondering. If you have not seen the film then the ‘Day 45’ may be a bit of a spoiler (fair warning) and some of the passages may not make much sense out of context. Nevertheless, these Marigold Monologues (as I call them) have bits of wisdom that seem universally relevant I believe for people of all ages to think about, with a bit of introspection and emotional connectivity towards the years gone by and the years ahead. I find them to ring true in my experience and inspirational in their own way, but like anything in such ways of thought and emotional extension, it depends on your own perspective and sense of self in such ways. I think anyone can gain a good deal from watching this film. It’s not the end and maybe there is a sequel in the works – Maybe more Marigold Monologues to come…

salvador dali-inspiration

Salvador Dali – Inspiration in Many Forms

I will get right to the point and there is in this life that “inspiration in many forms” that makes a philosophy. We all have a philosophy, whether we know it or not, and the word comes from the Greek philosophia, meaning love of wisdom. If you don’t love wisdom then turn away now. Wisdom is sometimes too strong a word and I often like to call such fragments I have collected over the years by the name of Tenets (an opinion, doctrine, or principle held as being true by a person). Perhaps they are just lessons I learned. So, without further embellishment in wordage, here are my Fifteen Fragments of Wisdom, Tenets or lessons in life:

1.) Don’t ask for something if it will be a burden to you when you get it.
2.) The way you end something is almost as important as how you began.
3.) Wisdom is usually the difference between knowledge and experience.
4.) Mistakes made in life are not as important as lessons drawn from them.
5.) Many of the truths we cling to often depend on a certain point of view.
6.) Happiness depends not on circumstances, but your approach to life.
7.) To remember everything is almost as bad as remembering nothing.
8.) Collect your tomorrows because they will become cherished yesterdays.
9.) The heart has its reasons in life that reason cannot possibly know.
10.) The threads that connect us are not bound by the space between us.
11.) You are always as good as the best thing you have ever done.
12.) A cup half empty or half full matters not and endeavor to fill it.
13.) Time is the great moderator in life, so moderate your time well!
14.) Sometimes giving means more to yourself than those you give to.
15.) Take time in your life to write your own 15 fragments of wisdom.

In the beginning there was Socrates, Plato and Aristotle – the ancient development of Philosophy. The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in Roman times demonstrates the lasting power of that wisdom, and though Roman Emperors were generally a bad bunch, the fact that they adopted much from the Greeks speaks volumes. In Modern times perhaps Descartes stands out as the father of modern philosophy – Cogito Ergo Sum. Well, this is not a lesson on the history of philosophy, but just to say that Human History is full of inspiration in many forms. I just added a bit of my wisdom or set of tenets to the mix in the name of philosophy, that represent an accumulation of thought in my life that I think may ring universally true. It’s the kind of thought that lifts us all to the existential way of thinking towards experience in acting, feeling, living, being and all that is human inside of us. It’s not always about the rational, but sometimes about the irrational too. That is essential to existential ways.

Barret

I am sure I have much to thank in philosopher’s past in applying such wisdom on reflecting about my experience and sharing such thoughts here, and that is part of the natural course of development as passed on through the ages. We are all a sum of philosophy past & existential experience I suppose. This is jut my spin on things I guess and very simply what I wanted to present in this blog as an offering of some wisdom. In closing, I include a photo from the film Ben Hur, with the caption “Row Well and Live” that has some substance and meaning regarding my 15 Fragments and beyond too, though admittedly it’s an afterthought on my part here.

Row_Well_And_Live

Ben Hur – Row Well and Live!

If you have never seen the film Ben Hur then you need to return to planet Earth 😉  I say that in jest, but seriously, see this film if you have not and it is a wealth of wisdom, tenets or lessons in life. As I said in the last fragment on my list, take time to write your own 15 fragments in life whether you call it lessons, wisdom, philosophy or tenets. They may have served you well, so serve them well, write them down and reflect on it – You may find it illuminating!

Next Page »