Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Movie Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Michael Bay needs to take a page out of Matt Reeves' movie-making playbook. Reeves' new movie, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, is laden with special effects and CGI...and yet instead of ruining the story, it actually enhances it. That might also have to do with the fact that Dawn's story is well-paced and logical, with dialogue and character development that (for the most part) feels organic and cohesive. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just an action-packed summer blockbuster - it is smart, tense, subtle, and emotional. Definitely one of the best movies I've seen this year (it's up there with X-Men: Days of Future PastCaptain America: The Winter Soldier, and How to Train your Dragon 2).

The movie takes place ten years after the first film in this series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The laboratory-made-cure-for-Alzheimer's-gone-wrong Simian Flu, which fast-tracks the apes' evolution, giving them human-like intellect and speech, has all but wiped out the human race. The apes, led by Caesar (motion-capture portrayed by Andy Serkis) have flourished deep in the woods outside San Francisco, and assume all the humans have died out. But when a group of humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) who are immune to the Simian Flu stumble upon the apes while looking for an old dam for power, the tension immediately jumps to an eleven. The humans need Caesar's permission to fix the dam and reroute the power...and the tension jumps to a twelve.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Re-Highlights of Vancouver

My gosh. The last time I posted anything was in January; it's like I was too exhausted to blog about anything. Trying to get a Masters in Theology will do that to you, I guess. Consider this a gearing-up to the usual theological and philosophical musings (and hopefully a redesign of this site).

The degree is all done and done, and so I have bittersweetly relocated back to Vancouver after spending two years in Washington DC at the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family. First, a Vancouver promo about the downtown core:

Yep, I'm pretty bummed about having to leave DC (let's not get into that), but of course there are more than a few things to which I can look forward. Not including the general (and obvious) "friends and family," which I could go on about for much longer than I'm sure anyone would care for, here is a short, semi-cathartic, off-the-cuff list - in no particular order - of the things that I'm happy to experience again here in good ol' Vancouver, British Columbia:

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Boxing Day (a Relient K cover)

'Boxing Day' is a bank holiday, observed by the Commonwealth Nations on Dec. 26th - the day "after" Christmas.  According to Wikipedia, this is the day when bosses and employers would give gifts, or "Christmas boxes" to their servants or to tradesmen. In Canada at least, the only thing I can notice about Boxing Day is that it is the day when the world at large thinks Christmas has passed us by, and the day where we have all our crazy shopping sales (it's like the USA's Black Friday, except that no one gets trampled over for a TV).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Take Time to Realize (a cover song)

In his encyclical Lumen Fidei, our Holy Father Pope Francis writes that "faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time" (13). In other words, when God gives us the gift of faith, he gives it to us in its entirety, and yet He does not want to simply flood us with it against our will. He wants us to engage in a dialogue, in an ever-continuing expansion and contraction through which we realize that faith, while totally given to us, needs to be nurtured, cultivated, and cared for. Faith will coax out of us all of our strengths and help them to grow; we need to be drawn out of ourselves in order to realize what was already in us, simultaneously giving our consent to be transformed. Grace builds on nature.

It's easy to apply a lot of that to the realm of human love. Sometimes, a great romantic relationship can be there in a nutshell, but it just takes the two people to draw it out of the other person; to help them "realize." It's the age-old drama: guy/girl likes girl/guy, and girl/guy doesn't notice guy/girl.

Anyways. Back in April, my friend Cristina and I wanted to sing a duet at a coffeehouse event, but in the end we couldn't make the event. So we decided to record the song instead. Tis a barebones cover of Colbie Caillat's "Realize." Originally, I wanted to add some piano and strings, but just couldn't figure out exactly how to blend it all together and make it work. Perhaps I'll record a second version later if I feel inspired, or maybe this vocals and guitar rendition is good enough. You can listen to it below, and download it as well if you so desire (and if for some reason the download button doesn't work, you can click "share" and copy and paste the link into your browser).

And to everyone out there praying that the special relationship with that special someone will "unveil itself personally," remember to have faith in God - because he has a great plan for our Vocation, plans for welfare, and not for woe.

Enjoy!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Men of Steel

I recently saw the new Superman movie, Man of Steel. First of all, let me (regrettably) say that the movie was just...not that good. I read one review that said that "Man of Steel represents everything that a great Catholic film ought to accomplish," my response to which was something like this:


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Mama Mary

A friend of mine, Eunice Hii, co-runs a blog called Faith and Peanut Butter. In honour of Mary, Eunice asked me to be one of the guest writers for a series of entries entitled "Brosary Boys," the purpose of which was to show guys who had a "die-hard love for Mary," since "there's nothing more attractive than a man who loves his mum" (although I promise you, none of the guys who guest-blogged did it in order to pick up a date).

So take a read through mine, and check out the other entries in the blog series!

Friday, May 31, 2013

A Mother's Work is Never Done

My school, the JP II Institute, runs the Center for Cultural & Pastoral Research. One thing that the Center does is publish a quarterly online book review journal titled Humanum, and as the name suggests, it is about "'the human': what makes us human, what keeps us human, and how to rescue our humanity when this is endangered. [The aim of the journal] is to pick [its] way with discernment through the flood of publications...that claim to tell us about ourselves, about family, marriage, love, children, health, and human life."

In honour of the Month of Mary, the journal's latest quarterly review is about the meaning, challenges, and joys of motherhood, and includes an article by one of my professors, Dr. Margaret McCarthy. The article is a bit lengthy, but it's packed full of stuff about the "work-home balance" and the "un-domestication of the home," and is definitely worth the time. Check it out (and actually, the entire issue is fantastic).