Category: what i am watching


So today was The Day of Reconciliation in South Africa and as long as you stayed off the comments sections of anyone posting anything about any of the marches it felt a little bit just like that.

This was my Facebook status at the beginning of the day: Continue reading

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It has been so great being back in Americaland for a month for a number of reasons.

One of those has been finding the opportunity to watch the first Peter Capaldi season of Doctor Who, which i finally finished last night. He can stay.

cap

As with the other doctors it felt like it took him a little bit of time to find his feet but i think he has now and so am very much looking forward to the next season when he jumps in owning the identity.

With each new regeneration [every time a new actor plays Doctor Who the storyline accomodates it by changing the appearance and characteristics of the character] there is a different flavour of the Doctor and i am really enjoying this one.

But the stand out moment on the show was when his companion, Clara Oswald [played brilliantly by Jenna Coleman], who was suffering deep grief from an event that had just happened in her life, had a moment of betrayal of her best friend and this conversation happens shortly afterwards:

Clara: You’re going to help me?

The Doctor: Well, why wouldn’t I help you?

Clara: Because of what I just did, I just…

The Doctor: You betrayed me. You betrayed our trust, you betrayed our friendship, you betrayed everything that I’ve ever stood for. You let me down!

Clara: Then why are you helping me?

The Doctor: Why? Do you think that I care for you so little that betraying me would make a difference?

Boom! Right between the eyes. Doctor Who drops the mic and leaves the stage…

But imagine if we thought and lived like that?

Powerful, powerful stuff.

doctor

world

A bunch of us went to watch Jurassic World last night and it was a lot of fun. i am a HUGE Chris Pratt fan [before it was cool to be] and he totally brought it. Indiana Pratt Jones? Bring it on!

But on the way home it was brought to my attention that there have been rumours on the internet that his character Owen is a grown-up version of the young boy from the original Jurassic Park movie.

So first thing i did when i got home was to jump on the Google-machine and do some research. Cos at first i thought, ‘No way, it isn’t possible.’ But when you put the two pictures next to each other, of the young boy from the original movie and Chris Pratt’s character Owen from World… well, see for yourself…

Whit Hertford

Wait, the cute little lovable dinosaur grew up to become Chris Pratt’s character Owen, who is cute AND lovable?

Wow, it may not be conclusive, but it is uncanny. Is it possible the director of Jurassic World, Colin Trevorrow threw in that little teaser as a puzzle for die hard fans of the original movie. Layers upon layers.

What do you think? Is Owen the little guy from the first movie all grown up?

How did you find the movie with the biggest ever opening in the world to date?

And how does a T-Rex cut wood? That’s right. With a dino-saw.

You saw it here first folks…

So tbV and i just flew a pretty long flight with Emirates via Dubai to San Francisco [which is a much greater way to do it than our previous Cape Town Joburg/Joburg Dubai/ Dubai Washington or New York/ Washington or New York San Francisco simply because of less plane-changing] and, as always for me, it is all about the movie-watching.

My previous record was seven i think although that included World War Z and another movie i can’t remember that i realised later i didn’t know enough about and had quite likely fallen asleep in for large parts of it. i have since watched World War Z but realised that that record didn’t really hold. No doubts remain after these flights in which i watched ten movies and most of an 11th…

Honourable mention to Penguins of Madagascar which was a lot of fun, but which i ran out of flight for [or at least headphones as the highly stressed flight attendant lady came around collecting them and had to watch the last 20 minutes sound free] so doesn’t qualify as completed movie.

In terms of the 10, this isn’t a true reflection of how much i enjoyed them as i find it quite tough to compare movies across different genres – Expendables for example being a completely more ridiculous movie in all aspects than something like Maze Runner, but still just a lot of silly fun. So this is a vague idea of a list of how i would rate the films i saw – on the plus side there were none that i regretted seeing and not a single one that i didn’t enjoy in one way or the other…

[10] Mortdecai – You had me at Johnny Depp. Although he has been in a bit of a slump for a long time in terms of working well-received movies and i was very sad when i heard Mortdecai, like a lot of his recent ones, did not perform well. But my friend Megan Giggles saw it recently and said it was a lot of jolly good fun and so i had to give it a try. And because, well, Johnny Depp. The main reason this one features at the bottom of the list is i think technical as there was a lot of noise on our first flight around take-off time and generated from sitting right on the wing i think and we had sound issues [the one movie Val watched with me – otherwise she saw all different ones i think and so we had to almost perfectly synch the timing of them so our peripheral vision wouldn’t detect spoilers – although i ended up being about a second ahead which proved a highlight as any time i knew she would love a joke or moment i got to sneak a peek and watch as she experienced it in the moment!]

mort

But yes, it was not a great movie but was a lot of silly fun with excellent supporting performances particularl from an over the top British accented Gwyneth Paltrow [simply delightful, darling!] and an excellent Paul Bettany as Mortdecai’s bodyguard who keeps getting injured by Mortdecai in a series of unfortunate accents. Just a lot of ridiculous fun and an excellent rainy day distraction. But MAKE ANOTHER GREAT MOVIE, Johnny! Pirates 5, anyone?

[9] Annie – Anyone that knows me a little bit well, knows that i typically am not a big fan of musicals [unless they are incredible productions like the movies Moulin Rouge, Les Miserables and i even thought Mamma Mia was fun every time Pierce Brosnan stopped singing]. That has always been my gripe with Disney movies – why ruin a good cartoon with singing? [Unless it’s Lion King with incredible songs or Aladdin with fun ones]. But the moment i saw the trailer to the new Annie reboot with Quvenzhané Wallis in the title role, i knew it was one i was going to enjoy. i guess it is also completely ridiculous as a story but just such a lot of super fun and most of the songs were great and i loved it. And it may or may not have sparked some serious dust issues in my eyes towards the end of the film. They nailed it, with Cameron Diaz an absolute treat as the over-the-top seriously-lonely-and-desperate Miss Hannigan…

annie

[8] The Maze Runner – When this arrived on the scene, i didn’t know too much about it. In a Young-Adult-Themed futuristic movie overload period which brought us The Hunger Games, Divergent, Ender’s Game and more, this did seem like just another one to add to the list. But the trailer was intriguing and so while i didn’t make huge effort to watch it on the big screen i knew it was a matter of time before i saw it. And yeah, once again an all around fun vibe of a movie. And with a setup for more to follow. I can’y remember how particularly successful this was at the Box Office so not sure if they are going ahead with the others but as a standalone it works and the cast is enthusiastic and energetic enough to keep you engaged. So if this is your thing, then this particular movie will be your thing. And if not, then probably not. But i enjoyed it as a popcorn entertainment moment during a long flight.

maze

[7] What we Did on our Holiday – This did not crack the nod on my initial circle-the-movies-i-really-want-to-watch-in-the-movie magazine-list run and was towards the end of our journey, so probably six hours and maybe two movies left to go. And it probably came down to watching this or the Simon Pegg, ‘Hector and the Search for Happiness’ which i’d seen the trailer of and which looked fun. What We Did on our Holiday appealed to me largely cos it had my favourite Doctor Who actor, David Tennant [who i LOVE] [no, appreciate in a movie acting kind of way] and also starred Billy Connolly, who you can rarely go wrong with. The premise of this looked a lot more drama’ey but i think Connolly was the swing vote. It was such an interesting movie as it focused largely on a broken-down relationship of a couple with three absolutely delightful children who were going to visit his father for his 75th birthday and wanting to pretend [very unsuccessfully] that everything was still alright with them. Really just a stunning indie pic exploring the complexity of relationships and family and parenting. Not as funny as i thought it was going to be [although it had some great moments] but more just a beautiful journey with a pleasing, yet honest, ending. i don’t feel this deserves 7th place on a top 10 list [especially with an Expendables ahead of it] and so without having to redo the whole list, would probably stick it in the top 3, realising that other movies are ahead of it here for different reasons. But well worth hunting down.

holiday

[6] What We Do In The Shadows – This is a particularly palated fine wine. As in not to everyone’s taste, but for those whose taste it is for, you will really enjoy it. This Vampire spoof mockumentary is a must for fans of Flights of the Conchord, whose Jermaine Clement both directs and plays Vladislav, one of the main housmate vampires in question. Rhys Darby, who Conchord fans will recognise as on-again-off-again band manager, Murray, cameos as the leader of the werewolves who, when confronted by Vladislav and one of his pack swears at them, reminds them that, “We don’t do that. We’re werewolves, not swearwolves.” Just a fun, delightful, well-written romp of a movie, weaving the documentary style so convincingly into its narrative.

shadow

[5] Expendables 3  – i mean, let’s be honest, this is completely ridiculous in terms of acting and dialogue and story and everything, but when trapped upon a metallic object flying with hundreds of people through the air to your destination, it is the best kind of absolutely ridiculous around. And i have to say i thought it was definitely the best of the three so far. As ridiculous as the dialogue is, they manage to work in some incredibly clever self-deprecations and nods to the audience and one of the best of these [if you know the whole background story to how Bruce Willis was left out of the movie after a money dispute] was when someone asked about Church [Willis’ character who was in the previous movie] and Stallone’s dead pan response was, “He’s out of the picture.” If you enjoyed I and II then you will definitely enjoy this one and if you’re looking for in depth characters, clever plotline and Academy Award winning performances, then you may not be as big a fan. Special mention to the new guys Wesley Snipes [amazing line about his tax evasion issues off screen] Antonio Banderas and Mel Gibson as well as the one female in the cast, Ronda Rousey [they finally brought a girl in] who more than held her weight in a man-heavy franchise.

expend

[4] Ex Machina – This was fascinating and could quite easily have been the best movie i saw on the flight, even though the other three movies ahead of it have specific reasons for being there. Certainly the most interesting. And being on the flight i assume the nudity [deals with artificial intelligence in the form of female android robot types] was blocked out specifically for the flight, so may be a whole lot more graphic if renting this elsewhere. The basic premise was that a highly skilled computer programmer wins a competition to spend a week with his boss who has created this AI [Artificial Imntelligence] woman and wants him to test the AI and see if it’s legit. The cast of Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander who plays the AI in question is phenomenal and this truly deserves to be a movie on people’s lips come award time. How do you determine the moment a computer stops simply being programmed and starts realistically thinking and reasoning for itself? is really the question in play here.

Just such a brilliant movie with a complex level of different layers at play in terms of the relationship between Caleb [the young programmer] and Nathan [the creator] as well as between both of them and Ava, the AI. Definitely a great film to watch with a bunch of friends and then sit around the meal table discussing. Probably the best movie i have seen this year and the others on this list only got ahead of it due to their importance to me.

mach

[3] and [2] Before Sunrise and Before Sunset – the moment tbV saw these on the flight she pretty much insisted i watch them. Ha Ha. i have been trying to watch ‘Before Sunrise’ for ever and just never finding it. Our local dvd store where we rent has part II and III of the trilogy but have been talking about it forever and on the rare occasions when i have seen it available, Val has already watched it and i didn’t want to make her have to see it again. So mission accomplished. For anyone who recently watched the Richard Linklater movie Boyhood [which also starred Ethan Hawke from these movies and which was filmed over a period of twelve years] this has a similar feel to it. A movie where Jesse and Céline, played by Hawke and Julie Delpy, meet on a train in Vienna and decide to spontaneously spend the day together and which basically focuses on a long set of conversations between them about a whole range of different topics, which ends in a passionate romantic encounter between the two of them.

Then the second movie follows nine years later where we learn that their plan to meet up again six months later never materialised [the reasons are understandable] and a chance meeting in Paris where Jesse has written a book largely based on that one night affair and bumps into Céline and they spend an afternoon together in the hours he has before he has to catch a plane.

For two movies based on a long extended conversation basically, Hawke and Delpy just completely entice and mesmerise and manage to hold your gaze the whole way through. i look forward to catching the third, Before Midnight [which was not on offer] which our dvd store does have, when we get home.

before

[1] Selma  – This probably cracks the number one spot more for its importance, than just because it was my favourite movie [as mentioned i would probably pip it with Ex Machina in that regard] but at the same time it was also an excellently crafted movie and so perhaps sharing the number one spot would be a better decision. But with a standout cast including David Oyelowo as Martin Luther King Jnr and Carmen Ejogo as his wife Coretto Scott King, Tom Wilkinson, Oprah Winfrey, Tim Roth, Common, Giovanni Ribisi, Cuba Gooding Jnr and a whole host more, and a riveting story of the marches that took place to secure equal voting rights in the town of Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965. This was such an important movie for Americaland and everything that is going on here at the moment in terms of the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the media attention on all of the way-too-many cop-on-black violence cases that have been highlighted over the last few months in particular. And it feels like an important movie for us in South Africa as well and i can imagine tbv and i arranging a screening and dinner at our home sometime soon after we get home, in the hopes of some good conversation.

When Luther started his ‘My eyes have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord’ speech in the closing minutes of the movie and they displayed the fates of various real life characters, my own eyes were filled with tears and it just stirred me to continue and to be asking more deeply some of the questions that face us back home. How not just those who aggressively and violently got involved against those marching [or against black folk in general] were to blame, but also those who refused to get involved when injustice was blatantly happening in front of them. When they called for a second march and a lot of white people responded from around the country by actually pitching up and showing solidarity, that gave me hope. It needs to happen more – we need to show up. That is quite possibly the next step after conversation. Or quite possibly during.

So yes, not an easy movie to watch. But an inspiring one and done with great direction, casting, acting and everything else.

selma

So there you have it. We flew in May and fly back in July so there should be a few new movies added in there although i did leave some i definitely want to see for the flight home, including Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken [that my mate Roy Langhein plays a cameo background extra role in] and The Hundred Foot Journey and more…

How many of these have you seen? Which one, of the ones you have watched, would have made your number one? And why…

A week or so ago, Jody, who plays goalkeeper for my hockey team, was fixing up the alarm system in my mate Duncan’s house where tbV and i have been living [as field hockey goalkeepers are wont to do].

i have no idea how it happened but somehow we got started talking and Jody quickly gets really excited about this dude, Stephen Lungu, who i’ve never heard of, telling me i HAVE to find him on the You Tube and listen to his testimony cos it’s incredible and will change my life. i told him i would try find it [not being a huge track down sermon on the You Tube and listen to it kind of guy], and somehow actually did [i panic’d!].

i scoured the You Tube and pretty quickly came up with a testimony from Stephen Lungu that was 66 minutes and 11 seconds long and i thought to myself, ‘That is never going to happen!’

So i looked around a little bit more and found one that was a lot more manageable at 27 minutes and 58 seconds. But still no.

Eventually i found a 9 minute, 37 second clip and thought God must be smiling on me and so i gave it a watch. And immediately shared it on Facebook cos it was pretty incredible. [Having said that, i just got caught into the 27 minute one and am listening in the background – powerful stuff].

Having watched the clip, i asked the people of Facebook if anyone had the book, ‘Out of the Black Shadows’ which is the story of the amazing transformation of Stephen Lungu, and fortunately a different mate called Duncan volunteered his copy which i have just finished reading. And it really is such a hectic and powerful story of God pulling someone out of a horrendous life situation and putting them on a different path.

Whether you believe in God or not, take a watch of the short version of this story and be inspired:

[For a story from Stephen’s life illustrating the power of a 30 year old answered prayer, click here]

good

If you, like me, are a bit sick and tired and heading towards overwhelmed by all the bad news stories we have to take in online [from mass killings in Nigeria to dead cartoonists to children in schools re-enacting dog fights to live cattle being attacked in a turned over truck] then we should do something about it.

There is so much to be done, and it can overwhelm, but ONE THING that can start the ball rolling in the right direction, is for us to get less sharey with the negative stuff and up our virality on the GOOD NEWS front.

In the shell of a really big nut, SHARE MORE OF THE GOOD NEWS STORIES.

It is not like they are not out there. It’s just that we tend to gravitate towards the bad, the negative, the sensational.

Who do you know who is doing good? Get them to guest post their story on your blog or Facebook wall or tweet a link to their blog on your Twitterer feed. Let’s put the good stuff front and center.

For example, i see a story on Facebook of a young entrepreneur, 23-year-old Veli Moses Mackenzie, in Johannesburg who is standing at the traffic lights asking for money [a typical thing in many of the cities in South Africa] except that his ask is a little different:

jozi

For R1 [less than ten American cents] i will teach you one word in my language [Zulu].

Dubbed the Jozi Traffic Light teacher, his story goes viral along with the hashtag #trafficlightteacher and the next day i read about him being awarded a bursary to follow his dream by studying audio technology.

The ask continued to the public as:

‘Moses is now in need of finding suitable accommodation, and Jacaranda has asked for any help regarding this matter. Moses currently lives under a bridge and sleeps in an old television box near his Empire road ‘office’.’ 

The more viral we can make GOOD NEWS, the more news outlets will see the value of reporting it and the more stories like this will start coming out. Also the less we feed on the bad news, the less the call for it and the more the media will shift to telling good news stories.

It is a supply and demand business – and what we demand, they will supply. The obstacle is obviously the fewness of people sharing the good stuff and so this does need to become a movement.

SHARE THIS BLOG POST for example. Write your own on a similar vein. And start passing on those stories of good.

One wonders if there would be any correlation to teenage school shootings, for example, if we gave them no media attention at all [anonymity instead of fame?]

And in fact, there are many people who are already doing this. Do you know of a group or site or place where we can easily find the GOOD NEWS stories? Please leave your links in the comments.

eg. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org or @good on the Twitterer

Where else do we find the good news?

From Worst Christian Book covers of 2014 to how to respond to Trolls or other people online you disagree strongly with, to a whole bunch of really helpful, insightful and great articles on race-related things and some reflections on our time at Robben Island, this has been another crazy  week of much to read, watch and ingest, and i would hate for you to miss any of it and so i have compiled this Don’t-Miss-Out summary of some of the greatest and lamest and most interesting moments from the web this past week.

Catch up on some of the gems you missed and share them with your friends:

 

MOST UNLIKELY CHRISTMAS GIFTS: If you haven’t finalised your Christmas Shopping yet, there will most likely still be time to order any of these, which i imagine will be sticking firmly to the shelves:

 

Worst Christian Book covers of 2014/2015

 
 

MOST HELPFUL.INSIGHTFUL IN THE ONGOING RACE CONVERSATION: i have continued to read a LOT around this topic and keep on finding SO MANY POSTS that are just so good. i took three of the best of them and stuck them together in this blog post:

 

The Wisdom of Others in Talking about Race
But then immediately found this interview with Christian Rapper Propaganda which made some of the aspects of it even clearer and it is worth reading the whole thing on Relevant Magazine, but at the very least part 2:

 

Interview With Propaganda by Relevant Magazine, Part II
 
 
MOST HELPFUL ADVICE WITH REGARD TO TROLLS AND OTHERS IN STRONG DISAGREEMENT: 

 

Why I run with Trolls: While a lot of people think that engagement with people who are strongly opposed to an idea you might be discussing is a waste of time, i give some ideas on why it might not be.

 
 

MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT:

 

Journey to Robben Island series: Last weekend i was privileged to go with tbV and a group of about twenty young up and coming Christian leaders to spend the weekend at Robben Island and i posted some snapshots into that experience.

 
 

MOST INSPIRATIONAL:

 

18 Badass women you probably didn’t hear about in 2014: Suggested by my friend Lindsay Brown, here is a remarkable list of some stories that didn’t get as much noise as they could have this last year.

 
 

CLASSIC PHOTO MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Go and order some Thai food for my wife and this is the Customer name they assign to me:

 

dreads

 
 

MOST EPIC USA MEETS SA VIDEO: With over 200 shares just from my Facebook blog page, i imagine you have probably seen this already, but if not then watch how Trevor Noah takes on the might of Americaland in this clip from The Daily Show:

 

 
 

MOST INSPIRING SONG: Absolutely love Asumbonanga by Johnny Clegg and he released a new version of it to coincide with the one year remembering of Nelson Mandela’s death:

 

 
 

MOST CRINGEWORTHY MOMENT:

 

Watching The Ellen Show where Ellen is chatting to her ‘Most amazing teacher of the year’ who is this white lady working with mostly Asian kids and the moment in the video where the teacher says, “Some of them don’t even have English names yet.”

 
 
FROM THE TWITTERER:
 

“A movement starts when the founder really knows Jesus. You know how a movement dies? When the followers only know the founder.” Francis Chan @crazylove

“There is no point being in the right place at the right time if you are not then willing to do the right thing.” Mike Pilavachi @MikePilav

“Convictions don’t change the world. Rather, people who faithfully and tenaciously pursue and live out their convictions change the world.” Eugene Cho @EugeneCho

 
 
Analogies are like sandwiches; I’m making one right now.  @Benjamin_G_Lund

Assistant measured my feet and said “You’re an eight” I couldn’t.  @FemmeDomestique
 
 
Hashtag Game suggestions i’ve submitted:

When Harry met Slalom

Lacrosse and the Switchblade

The Good, The Badminton and the Ugly

And now for something completely discus
 
 
CELEB TWEET LOVE
 

Brought my Celeb Tweet love up to 4 with this Retweet from Parks and Rec’s own John Ralphio:

Jean Ralphio favorited your Tweet

Dec 11@rejectedjokes Oh no. Love us some Jean-Ralphio. Well played dude. So. Much. Fun. #ParksAndRec
 
 
What about you? What blog posts or articles caught your eye this week? What has been making you think or laugh or be challenged or go, ‘Wo!’? What have you written on your blog that is worth taking a look at?

Leave us a link in the comments for our weekendentertainment…

 
 
Christ

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