Sunday, February 17, 2019

FRESH FROM THE THEATRE: Creed II

Welcome to the fifth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! So here comes year five!

The continuation of award winning re-booth of the famous Rocky series, about Apollo Creed's son, who seeks out Balboa as his mentor. In this movie, Adonis Creed has the chance to go up against Ivan Drago's son Viktor, and since Ivan killed Apollo in the ring, Adonis feels that he cannot refuse the fight.

Alright, this review might not be so fresh, but it came out in January in Hungary, and even then I was forced to watch it with dubbing, so give me a break here... Nonetheless... never in my life have I cared so much for boxing, as I do, when I watch these movies. Every time I think I cannot be surprised anymore, that I know what is going to happen, the movie takes a different path, a less cliché and life-like path that leaves me without words. This movie was excellently written. Even if you expect for Adonis to win, for example, the writers don't throw twists and turns at you, they just show you his thoughts and his process, and that is the unexpected part. The scenes have a raw reality to them instead of being bait for tears. I just loved this movie from beginning to end. And this will contain a lot of spoilers, because I want to go into detail.
First off, the rawness of the script, as I said. Second, this was not the story of one boxer, it was a chapter of the life of at least six people, and how they have to deal with an old chapter of their life that was reopening without their will, whilst everything else was moving ahead. And I didn't feel that these stories were fillers, nor that they didn't add to the overall story. I felt like I knew the main characters through a couple of short but strong scenes. And then three, the characters we already knew: Rocky and Drago. I am from Hungary, we were invaded by Russia, this country knows and understands that pressure of the Cold War that Drago was put under, in the story of this movie. He claims that he was kicked out, and just remember the jokes people made at the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, that now the Russian team will disappear because they lost? The reality behind those jokes was clearly portrayed in this movie. Drago wants to get his life back so bad that he almost sacrifices his son over it, and to me, the greatest scene of all was when Drago decided to throw in the towel and tell his son that it was OK to lose. He gets to this realization that their relationship is more important than the place where they live, and I have found that truly smart. In the end, he trains with his son instead of training him. Rocky, of course, was himself, and he was more of a background character, but he was used very wisely. I did not mind, that this movie was indeed about Creed. But he was around when he had to be.
Finally, the new characters. Needless to say, Jordan and Thompson are obviously outstanding actors, their chemistry and interactions were honest and moving. The person that surprised me was Florian Munteanu, playing Viktor Drago, someone, who despite two scenes, does not utter a single word, and still conveys just as much emotion as everyone else. I was just mesmerized, by how well I could read his thoughts, feelings, movements, simply by him playing with his eyes and facial muscles. I just... I loved this movie, really, I mean, it was nothing that I thought it would be, and then it was everything I wanted to see and expected after the first, and they f*cking delivered.

Watch it? This was a simply wonderful sequel, and I was scared about what to expect, because even today, with the great quality movies made out there, sometimes a sequel can be forced on us for no reason. Just like the original Rocky series, each new movie ads something to a larger picture, instead of being a drawn out drama fest... and this is a great movie on its own too: that is how you know if its a good sequel.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Adonis Johnson - Michael B. Jordan
Rocky Balboa - Sylvester Stallone
Bianca Tessa Thompson
Mary Anne Creed - Phylicia Rashad
Ivan Drago - Dolph Lundgren
Viktor DragoFlorian Munteanu

Monday, February 11, 2019

What's Next On My List? Rocky IV

Welcome to the fifth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! So here comes year five!

Fourth film of the iconic movies about the underdog boxer who went the distance. In this movie, Rocky has to tackle not only a worthy opponent, but their feud becomes the physical representation of the Cold War. The Russian opponent previously beat Apollo Creed to death, and with the risk of having the same faith as him, Rocky still decides to pick up the gloves against him.

Movie number four is my favorite, which I didn't think I would ever say about any franchise ever (prior to the 2000s). First of all, Rocky has a beard. Sylvester Stallone is a stud with a beard! And he has it for all of the training montage. Second, the music in this movie is just the BEST. "No easy way out" is still on repeat while I write this review, not to mention "Hearts on fire" which I started to sing as I wrote down the title... I just love 80s music and this movie is a perfect example to why: most songs to me are either the soundtrack to my life or the rhythm according to which I want to live my life. As any franchise that goes this far, they need more than the original cast to make us care, and I have found that music is very well used companion to tell these stories.
But my list doesn't end there: what I actually like about all of the Rocky movies, is the different ways in which he trains for his fights. I like that he understands that each opponent requires something new from him. He needs new tricks, he needs new techniques, and he needs cool new training montages in which he is half naked and sweaty. And in this movie he goes against Drago, played by Dolph Lundgren, who returns in Creed II, which came out in January 2019 in my country, and which is going to be my next review. In it, Drago's son will face off with Creed, in a battle that reminds up of the one between him and Rocky.

Watch it? Well, I am in conflict, to be honest: I think this is the best one of the series, for me at least, but I find that I had to watch the previous ones to really appreciate it for what it is. I do find that it is worth going through every one of them to reach to this point, and if you are a Stallone fan, I am sure you already have. As far as newcomers are concerned, I think you'll like this more than the others.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _ 

Rocky Balboa - Sylvester Stallone
Adrian Talia Shire
Apollo Creed - Carl Weathers
Paulie - Burt Young
Duke Tony Burton
Drago - Dolph Lundgren

Sunday, February 3, 2019

What's Next On My List? Rocky III

Welcome to the fifth installment of #StalloneMonth, which I have to say, is my favorite time of the year! In this period, over the span of four or five weeks (depending on the dates), I review Sylvester Stallone movies. This has been a fun project, and I will keep on going until I run out of movies to review! So here comes year five!

Third installment of the iconic story of an underdog boxer who went the distance. In the third installment he is challenged by someone who had quite a different upbringing than he did, and after being defeated, Rocky turns to Apollo Creed to mentor him, as his coach passes away during his fight.

This was a very different Rocky than I was used to so far, and I wanted to understand why. Talking about with my sister she said that I am thinking too much into it, but to me the fact that all of these movies were written by Stallone means that he knows very well what he wanted to do with his character. His coach tells him that he has become "civilized", the worst thing that could happen to an athlete, and I am even willing to buy the fact that having money, which he invested properly (unlike in the second movie), he could educate himself, he could read and learn and invest in his brain. His father always told him that his body was the only thing he had going for him, but we saw he wasn't really stupid, he just lacked education. Now, OK, I am willing to buy this major and noticeable shift, on his side, but when it comes to Adrian, I just don't get it... She was introverted and shy, really shy. Her transformation into this super sexy super mom with the coolest outfits the 80s can offer was kinda weird. Hers was not a question of education, she was just shy. That is one of the main reasons she preferred watching Rocky's fights from home, or backstage, instead of the first row.
Now, I welcome this change, because there was a clear evolution of these characters as there was a kind of change in the social class they belonged to. To showcase this we had Paulie, who did not really change, actually, who kind of went backwards from movie two, but his main mission was just to be a reminder of how long they came, at least to me.
Having discussed the differences, the story is what you would expect: against all odds, Rocky defeats his new rival, someone, who pities fools, by the way. He succeeds with the help of Apollo, as their boxing style is quite different than what Rocky was taught. Going back to the beginning, he decides to face his biggest fear: losing everything he worked for, fearing he isn't enough. But Adrian convinces him that his faith shouldn't tremble. Just because his old coach protected him, doesn't mean he cannot win.

"- Can I talk to you? I wanna ask you something important, and I want you to tell me the truth.
- What?
- Why'd you come here?
- I just don't want it no more.
- If it's over because you want it to be over, I'm glad.
-  I do.
- It's just... you never quit anything since I known you.
- I don't know what you want me to say. I mean, what happened? How did everything that was so good get so bad?
- What's so bad? Tell me, what?
- I wrecked everything by not thinking for myself. I mean, why couldn't Mickey tell me where I really at right from the start? He didn't have to carry me and lie to me and make me think I was better than I really was when I wasn't."

Watch it? It is quite different than the first two, but it follows the same pattern in story telling and the whole original cast returned, which became quite rare by the 90s (and a must past 2010). This is a huge franchise, you all know it, and there were still stories that Balboa had to tell. Not my personal favorite out of the series, but a good movie nonetheless, with some great dialogue.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Rocky Balboa - Sylvester Stallone
Adrian Talia Shire
Apollo Creed - Carl Weathers
Paulie - Burt Young
Duke - Tony Burton
Clubber Lang - Mr. T
Thunderlips - Hulk Hogan

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What's Next On My List? Star Wars Episode IV-V-VI

January is my Star Wars month. Every year we take my dad to see the new movies after Christmas, and it was in this period that I started binge watching Star Wars Rebels, and after each movie I feel the need to re-watch all six previous episodes. This was fueled in me after I saw Rogue One, because the amount of accuracy they put in that prequel still amazes me. I made no secret of the fact that I enjoy the prequels as well, I don't want to get into it here, you can read my reviews here, but for now I decided to write about this beloved classic because I am not alone in feeling that it is one of the most influential things in my life.


I don't want to go into long plot summaries, since most of you know what they are about, and if you don't, you don't want me to spoil it for you in detail, trust me. There is an empire that feeds off of its people, and a restless rebellion manages to get a hold of two great pilots, Luke Skywalker, and Han Solo, and with their combined help, they manage to get the upper hand for a while. Luke must train to become a Jedi, and their link to the rebellion, Princess Leia, ends up being the most important thing in the life of the two.

When I was tiny I saw the original trilogy, but not much stuck with me, I was too young obviously, until the prequels came out - got me in the mood -, and I spent a whole Sunday just watching them, one after the other. And here I have to admit, that I add a new layer of interpretation every time I put them on and watch them. I noticed, even back then for example, all the new CGI things they added on the DVD version and I was not very happy about it... the best thing this movie has done was construct everything by hand, without any green-screens and I was really mad that I kept seeing Lucas go back and ruin things... I am 100% sure that if he had the technology back then to make this movie they way he wanted with the CGI it would not have gained the following that it did. For that reason, I have noticed that I enjoy everything Star Wars related, that was not written by George Lucas. And this is important, because the original trilogy was not all directed by him. This feature is something they also kept in the newest trilogy and I am very grateful for that.
When it comes to the originals, I need to re-watch them simply because I do want to be in a galaxy far far away. These movies gave me something that I have long lost in real life, in a political sense: hope. You see, every story plays with the definition of good and evil, and especially the new series highlights how not everything is black and white, but I have found that to be one of the most important things in the original as well. Just look at Han: his motivations are quite questionable, even if he is a good boy, he wants to be desperately bad (something that the extended universe has a filled day with). Not to mention my last and favorite scene from Return of The Jedi, where Luke, who was not supposed to be blinded by his feelings, yells out "NEVER!" at the thought of losing his sister, and just, quite literally, beats the shit out of Darth Vader. If that was not anger, I don't know what is. He is supposed to be the epitome of what a Jedi can accomplish, yet all of his decision, from losing Ben Kenobi, to leaving his training, to then defeating the Sith (and almost trying to kill his nephew...) were all moves that were fueled by emotions. Positive, or negative, you can debate me, but I find that these movies made it clear already that there is more than just light or dark side.
If I have to be completely honest though, despite the fact that I find Darth Vader to be one of the best designed villains of all time, and that Luke is the ultimate fairy tale hero, the reason I go back to the movies always is the love story. Romantic stories are either boringly straightforward, or trying to hard to be deeper than needed. On the one hand, Leia and Han's relationship is so simple and honest, that it always reminds me that there is hope for good writing out there yet. There is no need to confessions every five seconds, but there is need for trust, and embrace. I like that in the midst of the action there was no need to keep winking out to the audience to make sure they are on board with what is happening! (I find that perhaps that is one of the main reasons people had issues with the prequel trilogy, as the audience was treated like children.) And talking about love, Luke's wish to save his father was truly embracing as well. The fact that he tried to kill him, well... if my father threatened my sister, I don't know what I would do either. But despite it all, even in his rage, I do not think he ever gave up hope.

The Skywalkers are quite important for the galaxy, of course, but I didn't mind the fact that we are told that they are crucial to the story. And by this I mean, that when you have movies about war, the main character is a nobody, and we have to care, that he is dying, that he lost his family, that there is a war that he does not want to be a part of, bla-bla-bla. Same way, if you think about major stories, like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games and such, you have a main character who does not want to be the main character: accepting their role in a larger picture is part of the story. Here, on the other hand, it's like, "Hey Luke, you wanna go on an adventure? Sure!", and he did. These three movies tell a great story, no matter if they are based on folk tale/mythology, because they elevated it enough to build a whole universe around them. Comic books, books, stand alone films, cartoons, prequels, sequels, and any and all mediums you can think of for story telling. We try desperately to bring closer to us this galaxy that is so far far away. I for one enjoy those stories that give me more about Leia and Han, but understandably, there is far more out there then this family, and that is what Star Wars Rebels, games of the old Republic, comics and now the new trilogy series is emphasizing, very successfully, I might add.

Watch them? You mean, should you put them in right now and re-watch them all? Heck yeah! Make January your Star Wars month too! And don't forget that the last episode of the trilogy is coming this year - I am blown away. I still remember the day Disney bought Lucasarts (I even wrote about it, click here to read!), and looking at how much we were given... I am blessed to be alive to see it. And re-see it again and again.

Until the next item on my list!
_ _ _ _ _

Luke Skywalker - Mark Hamill
Han Solo - Harrison Ford
Princess Leia - Carrie Fisher
Darth Vader - James Earl Jones
Lando Calrissian - Billy Dee Williams
R2-D2 - Kenny Baker
Chewbacca - Peter Mayhew
Anakin Skywalker - Sebastian Shaw
Ben 'Obi-Wan' Kenobi - Alec Guinness
The Emperor - Ian McDiarmid
Yoda - Frank Oz

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Blogger: ... And That is Why I Recycle

Everyday when I look out of my window, while sitting at my desk, I am greeted by the sight of that plastic bag on a high branch of the tree in front of my building. I hate that bag with every inch of my body. It is too high up for me to reach, and it has been there for over a month. Despite the strong winds, snow and rain of the past weeks, nothing will take it off.

The other day somebody asked me why I keep posting about 'boring' plastic pollution, and this is my answer: that one effing plastic bag that not only ruins my view but suffocates the tree too.

https://www.instagram.com/esthersusancsorba/

This little piece of goddamned plastic is enough for me to feel furious, to feel angry, to want to do something, to want to reduce the waste and pollution that surrounds me. I have been following The Ocean Cleanup project, and have donated and bought two bracelets of the 4Ocean project as well. You might come up to me and tell me that Hungary has no oceans, and although you'd be right, I will tell you that you are turning a blind eye to the problem. The ocean still surrounds us, and your plastic waste ended up there too, that is the problem. Every bottle, every bag, every plastic plate or container, that is not disposed of properly ends up somewhere where it causes damage. Of course, years back we did not separate our garbage and as such it makes sense, that some things are a result of unwanted effects. But today we know what happens. So TODAY we should care. 

 #HawaiianMonkSeal
Plastic is just one of the many things that we don't dispose of properly, and I didn't notice how much of it surrounds us until I started washing everything and putting it out in the right bin. From childhood toys to earphones, not just containers, but pens, discs, old broken rulers, cutlery, chords, and every little fold and box within a single pack of cookies. I find it to be an incredible waste, but there is no money in green, at least not as much as there is in plastic. But hopefully, as we are running out of oil, maybe plastic products will decrease as well. What continuously revolts my stomach about these stories is all that plastic that is found in the stomach of animals. Suffocation is the single worst way to die, it is the only thing I am afraid of, maybe even irrationally, but I am terrified of choking to death. Then I see a picture of a whale that has over 200 plastic bags ingested in its stomach and I feel the urge to puke my guts out. If, by disposing of plastic properly, I end up saving the life of just one fish, then it will have been worth it. Of the two bracelets I got from 4Ocean, one was to help sea turtles, one to help the endangered Hawaiian Monk seals, because the death of all these animals will have terrible effects on our habitat one day. Water is key, but all who live thanks to it should be of the same importance. And that is why I recycle.

Recently I read a list of things we can all do to make the Earth a greener place and I found that I do almost all of them, and those that I didn't, I have started to implement since the beginning of 2019. I would like to pass on these smart and easy tips to make sure you leave behind a better world for your children and old You.

Turn down your thermostat. I have five radiators in my apartment, and two are situated in such a stupid place, that they do not really help the room temperature at all. For that reason I turn them off the minute they turn on heating in the apartment. Unfortunately, they are not that strong even on the highest level, but I do recommend those who can regulate it to turn it down to the proper level. You all have sweaters at home, I personally put out my favorite blankets for my guests and they use them gladly.
Turn the water off while you wash your teeth. Actually, the idea of the little water filled cup next to your toothbrush is older than I can recall. That is the amount of water you actually need, or perhaps twice of that, but that is all.
Use tote bags while shopping. I have like seven, and depending on my moods, I always put another one in my bag to take with me, almost every other day I have to run into the shop for something, and I am always happy to have it with me.
Bring water with you in a reusable bottle. I am still looking for the perfect one, because they all seem to leak, but nonetheless, I think we all forget to drink the proper amounts of water daily, and having your own bottle helps with that. You can always fill up your bottle during the day.
Turn off and unplug the electronic appliances that you are not using. I religiously turn off my wifi and modem the minute before I step out the door. I am not home, why should it be going? Same with every appliance that has a little standby light going even if you don't use it, it just bothers me.
Put things out to dry, don't use a dryer. I don't have one, so that is the easiest. Also, a lot of times humidity is good for you and your apartment as well. Drying your clothes in the open in the apartment is actually one of the best things possible. You don't need any of your clothing dried that bad...
Wash things on a more medium temperature. If you can check the temperature of any water in your kitchen/bathroom, please do. That said, set the temperature of the cooler, freezer and boiler well. There are user manuals online as well, even if you inherit something or you threw out the guide by mistake, there are ways to fix that mistake if you just try to.
#4Turtles
Collect trash separately. Every time when I decide to declutter my apartment, I go with three trash cans: plastic/metal, paper and everything else. I make sure to get rid of everything properly, because it is not nearly as hard as one would think. Help yourself, have trash cans for everything and look up how and were to dispose of them.
Once you don't need it, recycle it, rethink it, re-gift it. I have re-gifted hundreds of things, from clothing items to toys, of course, not without letting the others know that these are hand-me-downs. Still, just because I don't want to wear a shirt anymore, doesn't mean someone out there cannot make great use of it.
Don't use straws. Just don't. Or get reusable ones and wash them with the dishes.
Change your light bulbs to led. It is really in the little things that can then make the big differences.
Shop from local markets. First, they might be expensive, but they don't put everything in plastic bags/boxes. If you help local markets, prices will change, the consumer society has to change. (As a university student I know, that money sometimes is hard to come buy, and we are likely to buy cheaper options. That is OK. The aim is to spend your money correctly once you have it. Not to mention, that you can help markets in other ways as well, what you need is the willingness!)
Change to environmentally friendly cleaning products or make them yourself. I do not know how many DIY videos are out there help you to get on track with this, or just learning how much can be resolved with just a bit of lemon juice, but this might be easier than all the other steps.
If you have a garden or terrace, collect rain water and use it. This is something I haven't done before, but I do go and clean my terrace when it is raining, so I don't have to use it from the tap. Nonetheless, to water your plants and so, it is perfect.
Lower your meat consumption. Beef in particular is really bad for you. Now, I personally hate vegans, so I wouldn't want to go as far as removing meat completely, we are, after all, animals. But some meats more than others have bad effects on the environment once they pass through our bodies, so reducing the quantity, or changing it, to whiter meats is a great option. I loved this part of my life particularly because I learned tons of new recipes.
Drive less, instead cycle or walk. I am not big on cycling, I do love to walk. Knowing how to drive is a great advantage, but it is not the same as having your own car and using it all the time. You can have a license and still choose to use it only when necessary. Walking is, the most beneficial, and you won't sweat as much as you would with cycling. Still, scooters and roller blades are also an option.
Don't print out everything. The minute they told us at the university that they cannot print things for us, I got myself an ebook reader. It has been my best friend ever since. Some things are good to print out, but mostly because you do need them in that format, not just because you like wasting paper. And if it has a purpose you should print it out, the emphasis is on the fact that it can and should be reduced.
Use rechargeable batteries. We are running out of things that require batteries, but if you do, not having to throw out batteries is a good thing.
Stop using paper towels. Admittedly, this one is the hardest for me, but I promise to work on it.
Plant trees. Even if you don't have a place for it, there are hundreds of charities you can send money too, or help physically if you don't have the money.
It's best, if you don't buy it at all. I have a terrible spending problem, and quite frankly, there is only one thing that I could come up with in order to ensure that I don't spend money for no reason: I sleep on it. If I wake up the next week still wanting it, I do buy it. If I go back and they don't have it at the store anymore? That is a sign too. If after a week I cannot think of anything but that one thing, I buy it. That easy. This technique helped me in saving a lot of money, as I have ended up sometimes finding the same thing for half the price, just because I looked around.
Take short showers. Done. I only treat myself to a big bath once every month.
Switch to water-saving taps and shower heads. Ask your local store. The guy always asking you if he can help will be thrilled!
Help the thermal insulation with curtains and blinds. In addition I bought a bunch of warm blankets that brighten the colors in my apartment.
Use mulch beneath your plants, so it dries the ground slower. It is my mission in life to master gardening, this will be the first thing I do.
Unsubscribe from mail-ordered catalogs, write it on your inbox that you don't want fliers. I have, on a nice pink paper, they are still putting them in there, but I won't stop making signs until they do.
Don't ask for paper based monthly bank statements. Become friends with your online banking application or website, and if you do need a copy of it, go to your closest bank. Those people are there to help you. Unless you have a specific use for them, it is better to cancel those letters.
Teach your children and relatives, or friends how to live a greener life. Yes, they hate my facebook posts already, but I won't stop, because I feel the need to do my little part to ensure a better life for those I love.

Governments are against greener ways because it isn't profitable right now, it might be in 10+ years, but politicians cannot think for more than a couple of years ahead, because of reelections. They need results NOW. But if we both get together and showcase that we want a greener life, we cannot go unnoticed, because we are after all the voters that they want to please.

As long as I live I will try and make better decisions and not try to avoid things just because I might be lazy. Every solution is out there, just waiting to be found. If you do just one of the things listed above, trust me, it will matter in the long run. Even if it wasn't the horrifying images of a whale's stomach that drove you towards wanting to do better, I can still tell for sure, that something out there is going to piss you off too enough to want to say no to plastic. And when you do, start spreading the word. For me, I know, that the piece of plastic on the tree I see from my window will forever be a reminder.