movies to watch for (and my predictions for best movies of 2012)

Someone should start a blog about movies to watch for . . .

Every time I’m ready to head to the movies, I have not the slightest clue about which ones are out, much less which ones are worth seeing. I probably can’t name a single movie out in theaters right now.

Someone should start a blog that keeps updated posts on movies to look out for in the near future. The blog could also include some movie reviews (after the fact), but it would focus mostly on upcoming movies.

Hm. So what kind of factors would the blogger have to consider in calling these movies worthy of “look out for this one” status? Probably, at minimum, these things:

  • Actors/actresses in the movie and their roles – Is this Harrison Ford in another Indiana Jones type film, or is he branching out and playing a softie minivan-driving dad?
  • Director, screenwriter, and the other big shots – If James Cameron is directing, it’s probably a winner.
  • Plot originality – No offense to the genre of romantic comedies, but if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Anyways, in celebration of the almost new year, I’d like to give my predictions for movies to watch for based on these factors.

Predictions for Best Movies of 2012

1. The Hobbit

Peter Jackson directing. Most of the original cast returning. Based on the novel by Tolkien. Follows in the footsteps of the trilogy for The Lord of the Rings, one of the highest-grossing film series of all time. Need I say more? Look for it in December.

Elijah Wood as Frodo Baggins

2. The Great Gatsby

Sure to be another great book-to-movie, this adaptation of Fitzgerald’s novel stars three big names: Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan, and Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway. The film is directed by Baz Luhrmann, whose previous work includes Romeo + Juliet (which also starred DiCaprio) and Moulin Rouge, which was nominated for Best Picture back in 2001. I’m personally stoked to see this film, since DiCaprio is my favorite actor by far for his history of films like Titanic, Revolutionary Road, Inception, and Catch me if You Can, to name a few. I also look forward to seeing Mulligan’s development as an actress. For her work in Never Let Me Go, she was described as an actress who “feels” instead of acts. I can’t wait to see the two together. This one also comes out in December.

Cast of The Great Gatsby

3. Men in Black III

Though worldwide earnings were “down” to $442 million for the second movie, I believe it’s safe to say that people like the Men in Black movies. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back in their classic partnership. Can you believe it’s been over 10 years since they first hit the big screen together? Smith has developed so much as an actor since then, breaking his “funny man” stereotype with roles in The Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds, Ali, and I am Legend. Though he’ll likely be cracking jokes on screen for this one, I think his recent successes will bring a loyal fan base to theaters in May.

Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith in Men in Black

4. The Wedding

Although I haven’t heard much talk about this movie, it’s one of those “ensemble” or “all-star cast” types, with the big names being Diane Keaton, Robert De Niro, Katherine Heigl, and Robin Williams, plus more. I won’t claim the plot is very original (it’s one of those “let’s pretend we’re married for this-and-this reason”), but similar films like The Family Stone, which Keaton also starred in, have done well. It’s sure to appeal to families that want a good laugh. Look for it in October.

5. Les Miserables

This must be the year for novel-to-movies, because yet another classic, Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, is lighting up the screen. The film will attract not only the literature lovers and those just curious enough to see a movie about a book they read in high school, but also those wanting to see how the producers have adapted this from its popular stage form to film. (Besides, Susan Boyle popularized the song “I Dreamed a Dream” from the musical version in 2009. When things like that seep into pop culture, people don’t forget it.) Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, and Anne Hathaway are the three main characters. Expect to see it in theaters in December. (Are you, like me, starting to wonder why all the good movies come out in December? It’s gotta be some kind of marketing scheme to steal our money intended for Christmas gifts.)

6. Safe House

This is a suspense/thriller, and the main plot is that a CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) must move a criminal (Denzel Washington) to a new safe place before violent forces kill them both. I believe the movie has a few things going for it: Denzel, the genre, and, of course, the whole CIA ingredient. It’s out in February.

7. The Vow

Starring Channing Tatum and Rachel McAdams and based on true events, this is the story of how a couple’s life is torn apart when a car accident takes away the wife’s memory, and she can no longer remember her husband. He has to try to win her heart all over again. The film hits theaters in February, the perfect time to catch the romantics looking for a good Valentine’s Day date. Both of the stars previously acted in Nicholas Sparks book-to-films, so they’re sure to know how to pull the heartstrings.

The Vow

*** If you’re mathematical, unlike me, then you might have noticed that 3 out of 7 of my top picks are book-to-movies. I can’t tell you what percentage that is, but I would like to recommend reading this recent post, What Should Come First . . . by fellow blogger BookBlob, if you need help deciding whether to read the books or watch the movies first.
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thought-provoking movie quotes

Someone should start a blog about thought-provoking movie quotes . . .

Movies. I love them. An original plot, a few strong actors and/or actresses, fitting cinematography. For me, that’s a good movie. But I can’t forget the movie’s ability to provoke thoughts. Thoughts I’ve maybe never had before. Issues I hadn’t seen the other side of. Ideal movie viewers must ask themselves the very questions that the characters are faced with.

I recently watched the movie Never Let me Go, which is based on the *novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro (Remains of the Day). By way of summary, the movie is about three young adults who’ve grown up in a British boarding school that serves a very distinct group of people: clones created for the sole purpose of donating their organs shortly after they become adults. After the fourth donation, these individuals “complete,” in other words, die. The movie follows not only the coming-of-age of these three characters, but also their romantic interests and confrontation of their inevitable deaths.  

One scene in particular, I watched over and over again. In this scene, one of their more caring teachers decides to tell them outright what is always hinted at in the boarding school but never stated: that they were born to die. Here’s her speech:

“Do you know what happens to children when they grow up? No, you don’t, because nobody knows. They might grow up to become actors, move to America, or they might work in supermarkets, or teach in schools. They might become sportsmen or bus conductors or racing car drivers. They might do almost anything.”

The teacher goes on to explain that they’re not like normal children. Since before they were born, their fates were chosen for them. The mystery of what they will become has been stolen away from them.

Doesn’t it make you think? Doesn’t it make you wonder what the children you know will become? Maybe they’re always playing with toy cars, or reading books about insects, or playing teacher. But the great mystery of children is what they will become, and only time can solve it.

*I originally thought the name of the novel was Remains of the Day, but that was a different novel by the same author.

real moments

Somebody should start a blog about real moments . . .

(Warning/Disclaimer/Preface: This post is highly philosophical in nature, more so than most previous posts. It is not very humorous or knee-slappingly funny, but it was something I had to write about. End of disclaimer.) 

Do you ever have those moments when life is finally so real? You realize something. You experience something. You feel taken aback. Or amazed. Or alive for the first time. All of a sudden, the shams of your “existence” don’t withstand or last or satisfy or matter. You’ve stolen a glance at a massive shiver of light, albeit through the cracks of walls erected between you and eternity.

Real moments are like spotlights in an otherwise dark theatre.

It happens when I have a late night walk with friends. Or listen to certain songs on repeat for indefinite time. Or have an ephiphany – even minor characters can have them. Or something happens that is unbelievable for the cynics and those who believe in luck or chance, or their children coincidence and accident. It happens when I’m running “late,” only to cross paths with someone, and one of us desperately needed to see the other.

Sometimes it’s felt through words on a page, in a story, on a song sheet. Today, my real moment was here:

“Sometimes it seems like the most real thing is what we can see and experience with our senses around us – this life, the tangible . . . Ideas like love, like God – these things sometimes feel more disconnected and ethereal, like that’s the ghostly realm. But what if that’s wrong, and God and love is actually what is most real, and we are more like ghosts walking upon the earth, hoping to become more real?” – Michael Gungor

Someone should start a blog about those moments, the real moments when we feel life and, even if but for a moment, become real ourselves.

touring with a band

Someone should start a blog about touring with a band . . .

If you’ve been reading this blog for any time, you’ve probably realized by now how much I enjoy music! Music, music, music. I like to play it, hear it, sing it, talk it, share it, find it, feel it. (In the future, I’ll try not to over-blog about music, but I must admit that I sometimes look for excuses to upload my pictures from concerts.)

Last week I was able to see David Crowder *Band in concert with Gungor, John Mark McMillan, and Chris August. And they were all more awesome than I could have imagined. The sad news is that this was my first time seeing DC*B in concert, but also my last time. This is the band’s final tour before they officially break up. (Now, there’s a plethora of breakup songs in this world, but I don’t supposed bands have written many “band breakup” songs, because they’d no longer be together to play them.)

But concerts, don’t you love them? Someone should start a blog that follows a band’s tour. I’m sure artists blog about their tours all the time, but wouldn’t it be cool if someone went along just for the sake of blogging about the whole experience? They’d be like an outsider, but on the inside.

(I must say that I was inspired to write this article by a fellow blogger who’s been kind enough to “like” several of my posts:  http://imonthebandwagon.com/. This blogger posts all the conversations of a band he’s on the road with. It’s pretty cool.)

a collection of signed things

Someone should start a blog about a collection of signed things . . .

I’ve owned a few signed things in my life: a copy of The Giver signed by Lois Lowry, a copy of Holes signed by Louis Sachar, and a few other books.

But on Saturday, I acrued my first signed poster! (That’s because I got to go to the Shane and Shane concert, plus Bethany Dillon and Freely, at Monaghan Baptist in Greenville.)

Here's the poster before it was signed. That's me at the concert.

It would be cool to read a blog about someone’s collection of signed things, or more specifically signed posters. The blog could include a little info on each concert, what it was like to meet the artist, and then be filled with concert pictures and pictures of the signed things.

As for me, this is the only signed poster I have to offer photos of:

Here's the poster after it was signed. That's my hand, holding it up to the door in my room.

Anyways, it was a very cool concert, my second “big” concert. Shane and Shane were harmonious as usual, and funny. Freely was an awesome band that I’d never heard of, and now I can’t stop hitting repeat when I listen to their song “More Beautiful.” Bethany Dillon was also solid, and even shared a new song with us.

where music comes from and the process of becoming a musician

Someone ought to start a blog about where music comes from and the process of becoming a musician . . .

How does someone become a musician? Is playing an instrument and being a musician the same thing?

From the ages of around six to thirteen, I took “official” piano lessons. Weekly meetings. Daily practices (or less frequent). Theory books. The whole nine yards. But I hated it. I never looked forward to practice. It was a forced thing.

So I quit when my mom finally let me. And I was out of piano for a year or two. When all of a sudden, something strange happened. I suddenly wanted to learn to play the piano. I wanted to be a musician.

The piano, my instrument of preference.

I started lessons again, this time with a different teacher. He was passionate, and seemed to stress practical things over theory. I loved it. I started learning chords. I started playing for fun. I started playing with the worship team and wherever I could. In that one year of lessons, I probably learned more than the whole eight years before.

One day in particular, I asked my teacher to play his favorite song. He sat down and played one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard, this thriving, driving song. When he finished, he confessed that he had written the song! What?! That was one of the coolest things that’s ever happened in my music life.

I kept playing, but not long after, school work started to take over my life (aka, I went to college). But just a few months into college, I met a friend who played the piano by ear. And, once again, music jumped into my heart. Watching him sit down and play inspired me so much. I started trying to play by ear. I would just sit down, and at first it was slow coming.

Today, I can sit at the piano and just play a song that comes from, well, I don’t know where. I wish I could have tracked this transformation from being someone who plays an instrument to a musician along the way, but I can only reflect on things in retrospect.

Just this week, two different friends shared two different quotes with me about where music comes from and what being a musician is. So I leave you with them:

“Music comes from a place we don’t know. It sort of comes through the fingers and toes.” – Chris Martin

“My goal is to live the truly religious life, and express it in my music. If you live it, when you play there’s no problem because the music is part of the whole thing. To be a musician is really something. It goes very, very deep. My music is the spiritual expression of what I am – my faith, my knowledge, my being.” – John Coltrane