The Drop – 2014

Movies usually make Brooklyn out to be a raw place to live in. The struggle, the people, the culture, the code of conduct, the lingo, the arts, the organized crime, everything’s got a raw flavor that’s deep-rooted and captivating. It’s like outsiders see one thing, and the people that live there see something else. But I’ll be honest, it’s the cast that drew me to this film. Tom Hardy’s been nothing but brilliant lately, James Gandolfini gets my vote any day for pure genius, and Noomi Rapace’s been on my radar since playing Lisbeth Salander. And btw, she’s awesome too in Prometheus and Dead Man Down.

The plot builds around Bob (Hardy), a bar tender. He’s the quiet harmless type. A robbery goes down at the bar, which is now owned by the mob even though it’s in Marv’s (Gandolfini) name. Somewhere in its history, Marv got muscled by the mob and lost ownership. But they let him stay on as the manager. After the robbery, he’s more concerned about a bullet to the head than he is about the police investigation. But Bob is calm as always, handling events with clarity as they come.

An abandoned dog opens the plot for Bob and Nadia (Rapace) to meet. Their relationship is fostered by caring for this dog and soon matures into a liking for each other. It’s easy to eat up the underlining romance because their characters are so different. He’s like a big teddy, kind, gentle, and oblivious to the dangers around him. She’s more outspoken and untrusting, with scars of a troubled past.

The story begins to take a turn when her ex-boyfriend resurfaces. He becomes the root of some serious bother that Marv steps in to dissolve, or perhaps take advantage. Loosing his bar is a fight he wasn’t done with despite the years gone by. He stays obedient on the outside, but behind the scenes has these rackets in motion to settle the score. As the story unfolds, his grudge leads him down some dark alleys, and we see the lengths he’ll go for revenge. We also find out there’s more to Bob than meets the eye. Our gentle bar tender in a criminal world is not a fish out of water, dude can swim with the sharks! This reveal about his character cements the plot, making for an intriguing conclusion. The real bad guy, you never see coming!

The_Drop_xlgThe Drop is a good study for aspiring filmmakers. No complex plots, stunts or camera moves, but excellent story telling. It’s a reminder that writing a great script for any movie is what grapes are to wine. It all starts there. The color grading is vibrant, constrasty and looks natural. Aspiring filmmakers can dissect 90% of the scenes and recreate them with good lighting skills. I love films like this that don’t rely heavy on effects to entertain. IMHO, it’s a solid delivery from all parties involved and definitely a winner.



Is this 106mins of my life I wish I could take back? Never.

Will I see it again? Yes, seen it six times already.

Is it worth owning? Yes, I purchased the Blu-ray. It looks and sounds great.

What about the soundtrack? Undecided, I’ll have to listen some more.

Should there be sequel? None required.

Who will like this movie? Anyone that appreciates a well scripted crime drama.

Is it a Classic? I wouldn’t say so. However, it is excellent story telling.

The Reader – 2008

One connection. That’s all it takes to change how a person responds to affection. Something clears a path for one heart to merge with another, often without rhyme or reason, forming a bond that never replicates. And that’s fine, so long as the lovebirds stay together. Problem is when they don’t. Like many, I’ve learned love comes and goes. When it goes, we have to adjust. Because any happiness found in recreating a lost love is short-lived. Futile. It’s best to focus on the now, find a new reason to feel love. Then water that new seed. Give it sun.

I don’t remember seeing a preview for The Reader or how I found this movie. But I remember buying the soundtrack almost immediately. It became one of my favourite albums to listen to when editing photos. Last weekend, I saw the movie again on Netflix and felt like I was seeing it for the first time. The good ones usually have that effect.


Years from now, the faces you’ll remember from this movie are Michael Berg (played by Ralph Fiennes), Young Michael Berg (played by David Kross), and Hanna Schmitz (played by Kate Winslet). They take us back to 1958 in Germany. It’s pouring rain outside, Michael’s on his way to school and starts feeling unwell. Coming home from work, Hanna finds him vomiting in a corner. It didn’t matter that they were strangers, she cleans him up, flushes the vomit down the pavement with a bucket of water and walks him back home.

Allow me paint another picture. Think of sitting in the train. You just left a buffet and your stomach is rumbling from something you ate. You run out the subway at the next stop to find a washroom. But before you make it to a Tim Hortons, Starbucks, or some nearby mall, your ass gives in to the implosion. A stranger passing by cleans you up, washes the ground, and helps you feel the least shame in this very shameful moment. Got the picture? Good. Lets move on.

Michael is bedridden for months from what turns out to be a serious illness. As soon as he recovers, he goes looking for Hanna, to thank her. She comes home from work to find him there, shy, boyish, unsure. The story continues, and we see how two strangers get to know each other in a way many will disapprove. She’s in her mid-thirties, he’s fifteen.

Notice I didn’t say he is “only” fifteen. Call me nasty but I think back to when I was that age. Sex was at the forefront of my thoughts. Getting it from an older woman would have meant more to me than front row tickets to see Kriss Kross. I wasn’t a popular kid in school and got little to no action. With all the heat and curiosity about girls, a one-on-one learning session with someone like Hanna would have been welcomed. Now thinking as an adult, the fine print of that fantasy will have to read – No Future Psychological Side Effects 🙂

So Hanna and Michaels’ secret goes on a while. After every passionate encounter, naked in bed, he reads to her. It starts with a novel he’s studying for school, and grows to other books. She loves hearing words leaping off pages to form stories. Her face lights up with laughter when a story’s funny, tears trickle down her cheeks when it goes sad. The readings become as vital to their relationship as the sex. Michael is happy, why wouldn’t he be? Dude’s getting two for the price of one, a double education. No way any laddie knocks this arrangement. Not only is he improving his reading, but also his understanding of the female anatomy.

Later on, something happens that jolts Hanna into seeing the futility of their affair. She packs her things and moves away without notice. Michaels’ heart is broken, deeply. Many years pass without a word from her. He never gets over it, the unanswered questions that haunt him. But as faith would have it, their paths cross again. Under different circumstances, revealing some truths that explain her actions.

Their short affair left an indelible mark on Michael. It altered his ability to commit to a woman. Did Hanna love him, or was she a serial offender? Preying on the likes of him to fill a void deep within her. Or could it be their connection’s mutual. Perhaps he touched her as deep as she did him, and they both created a hole in each other that couldn’t be filled by another.

I don’t think this is a movie you set out to see, it’s one you stumble on and in the end say wow, that was interesting. What makes it work is…..it’s simply a darn good story that unravels at a well thought out pace. I like scripts that create long silences. The characters use short lines, and rely on facial expressions to fill the white space. It heightens drama, making every moment seem a bit longer than it really is. The actors have to be extremely good at communicating a mood or thought with no speech. Our cast does not fall short in this regard. Everyone delivers a solid performance but I have to say, Kate Winslet is on immortal status after this.

Some things I feel have to be kept close. The Reader is on Netflix so yes, I can watch it anytime I want. But that’s not close enough for me. It’s now on my Blu-ray price tracker. When it hits $9.99, I’ll order one.

Is this 124mins of my life I wish I could take back? No.
Will I see it again? Yes.
Is it worth owning? Yes, I plan to get it on Blu-ray.
What about the soundtrack? Incredible. I listen to it on repeat.
Should there be sequel? No.
Who will like this movie? Anyone who likes unpredictable drama, and perhaps experienced a sexual relationship with someone much older.
Is it a Classic? No. But it’s undoubtedly a great work of art.

Exploring Portugal

I’d like to go away every  six months at minimum. Trade the everyday hustle for some tranquility. Unfortunately, that’s not always attainable. A whole year can sometimes go by without any real escape, that’s almost what happened with my long anticipated trip to Europe. It wasn’t till November, pretty late in the year that I found a window to slip away from ongoing projects.

Destination was Portugal and the travel plan, simple. Arrive in Lisbon, stay 4-5days, then go to any city within a five-hour drive worth exploring. Thanks to Airbnb, adventure triumphs details. Finding accommodation has never been easier, hence the play it by air type plans.

Portugal is a country rich in culture. You feel it the moment you leave the airport and set foot on the cobblestones. There’s much to say about my experience, but to avoid writing a lengthy post, I’ll feed y’all timbits.

Gear disclosure: I wanted to travel light so I brought three very light lenses. 95% of the images were shot with a Nikon 28mm AIS F2.8 and Nikon 135mm AIS F2.8. The remaining 5% were shot with a Tamron 90mm Macro F2.8

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Fury – 2014

War movies are the least in my collection. The reason being they are less memorable than other kinds of films. Though bullets ricocheting from my rear speakers is great, I still need a story built on people, relationships and personal conflicts. Something that goes beyond loud fight scenes, into the characters and their emotions. I wasn’t pumped or super excited when I saw the preview for Fury, and I think Brad Pitt being the front man had something to do with that. My suspicion was its just another film riding on his stardom to sell tickets, so naturally I questioned the quality of its stuffing. But when the Blu-ray went on sale for $14.99, what the hell, that’s a gamble I can stomach so I purchased it.


Fury is an Action Drama, lets just call it a war movie. The main characters are Brad Pitt as Wardaddy or Collier, Shia LaBeouf as Boyd, Logan Lerman as Norman, Michael Pena as Gordo, and Jon Bernthal as Grady. The setting dates back to the war against Hitler’s campaign to conquer the world. American soldiers fighting Germans overseas end up bringing the fight back to Germany. This story centers around a five-man crew on a war tank named Fury.

The opening scene is mysterious and impressive. A silhouette of one soldier on a horse riding forward from the horizon. He’s very calm, almost like he’s taking a stroll. Then suddenly he’s tackled off the horse to the ground, where Wardaddy finishes him with a knife. We are now able to see the lifeless man is a German soldier of high rank. His horse gets the opposite treatment, she’s handled with affection and set free. An act that shows though Sergeant Collier maybe a man at war, he hasn’t lost sight of the value of innocent lives.

After taking the dead German’s tags, he reunites with his crew. We learn they’ve just lost a member in a recent battle, his body and blood still splattered in the tank. They are sitting ducks due to a mechanical issue Grady is working very hard to fix. He’s able to get the tank moving again and they drive back to base. The camera follows, showing us the grimness of the world they are in. Bodies are being raked into mass graves, there’s a disparity in the number of medics to wounded soldiers, P.O.Ws gazing hopelessly behind cage fences. Of course the terrain of choice is mud. Ever notice how military camps in movies are usually muddy? I think one reason is because visually, it adds to the unpleasantness of the whole business. Subconsciously, you and I watching know that’s one place we don’t want to be.

The storyline moves, and we learn another soldier is assigned to Wardaddy’s crew to replace the dead one. Norman, our new kid on the block is green. His service in the war thus far has been on the administrative side of things. Just like that, dude’s suddenly gone from typing messages to war tank machine gun operator. He struggles with the realities of his new post, and it becomes clear that Norman’s character is the thread that weaves this movie together. He’s a young do-good soldier immersed in the ugliness of war, realizing he’s there for one reason alone, to kill.

At this point we know more about the crew. Sgt. Collier or Wardaddy has earned the utmost respect of his men and leads them in father-ish kind of way. Boyd is a man of God, always spitting scripture from the Bible. Grady is the cray cray one with lose knots in the head. Gordo is our Latino tank driver and a bit on the sensitive side. Norman we already know is the new gun. Together, they work as a team, preserving each other’s lives while fighting for Germany’s surrender.

Somewhere around the middle of the movie, we get a Doc Holliday vs Johnny Ringo moment and it is a treat! Three American tanks against one beastly German fighter. For illustration purposes, think of three Hyenas facing one big Lion in open field, nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. The fight must commence and even the survivor will be seriously scathed. The audio here is impressive, very well balanced. Personally, I hate when dialogue is overpowered by sound effects. A common pitfall in many films which I’m glad to say is not an issue here at all. In fact, the audio mix is one of the best things about Fury. I didn’t have to adjust the volume while simultaneously enjoying both dialogue and special effects.

The end is similar to how the story begins. Our five-man crew find themselves sitting ducks again after driving over a landmine that explodes and breaks their wheels. With a busted tank, and an entire German battalion heading their way, they decide to make a stand. Five soldiers against hundreds of enemy combatants. This is easily the best part of the movie and what makes it truly delicious is the lighting. Daylight is gone and it’s dark, yet you see the action unfold in amazing detail. How I would love to see the DOP at work in the behind-the-scenes footage.

An enormous question mark looms over the ending; I wonder why the clemency from this one particular German soldier. It’s not disappointing, I just don’t get the logic. That said, Fury is without doubt one of the best war films I’ve seen in a long time and makes it to my top-five list. My favorite is still Enemy at the Gates with Jude Law and Ed Harris.

The cast is awesome and they all deliver big-time. I’m not fond of Shia LaBeouf, he speaks too fast and way too much for my liking. But this time I actually enjoyed his performance. The only other movie I really like him in is Charlie Countryman. Brad Pitt is not just a poster boy for this film, he’s solid all through. Only overshadowed by Logan who in my opinion, is the viewer’s eyes into the story. Besides the guys in the tank, months later when I think of this movie, I’ll also remember Emma. Too bad she had to go out like that.

I’ll sign off commending the overall production value. The picture on Blu-ray is excellent. I love the smoke/mist/fog that’s ever so present through the film, creating a kind of mystery. The writing is five stars; I like how they allow you time to meet a character, even if for a couple of seconds before that person becomes a casualty. Forcing the message to hit home harder which I think is clever. Writers usually give villains a face so the audience can identify who the bad guy is. There’s no main villain in Fury, but because of the excellent writing, we know who the enemy is and where to focus our attention at every turn.


Is this 134mins of my life I wish I could take back? Absolutely Not!

Will I see it again? Yes, unlike Apocalypse Now, which I consider my worst war movie purchase. I don’t get why all the fuss about it.

Is it worth owning? Yes. I purchased it on Blu-Ray

What about the audio? Ridiculously good! A well-balanced DTS mix down.

Should there be sequel? No need for one.

Who will like this movie? This is obviously a guy’s film, however its 2016 and I know ladies that can’t get enough of the UFC. So if you like action, a great story with well-written characters, big machine guns, war tanks and first-shooter video games, then this movie is for you.

Is it a Classic? I think so. Great war films are hard finds and this one checks all the boxes.

The Day of the Jackal – 1973


It was in my mid-twenties the first time I saw this movie. It left such an impression on me that I went out looking for the DVD. In life, the things we worry about differ from person to person. You for instance may worry about atonement for your sins in time for judgment day, or that diversified portfolio built over a lifetime tanking in todays’ economy. As for me, I worry about where they keep the originals of classic films. What if it gets incinerated? How then will I acquire these films at a reasonable price? How How How???? Hence why I hunt down these movies and buy-em 🙂

The Day of the Jackal is a crime drama released in 1973, its how I got interested in Fred Zinnemann. I went on to own two other films he directed: From Here to Eternity (1953) and A Man for All Seasons (1966). An attempt was made to recreate it in 1997 starring Richard Gere and Bruce Willis, but IMHO, that’s all it is, an attempt, nothing more. In fact, the only thing I remember from that version is the subway scene shot in Montreal, and that’s because I lived there at the time.

The screenplay is about an underground organization of French militants (The O.A.S) in opposition to the country’s leadership and determined to remove the President. After many failed attempts, they decide to employ the services of a foreign assassin, an Englishman with a reputation for high profile hits. He’s not interested in picking sides or validating political views, his only interest is in getting the job done for the right price. At their first meeting, he tells them his fee and refuses to bargain, take it or leave it. Astonished, they ask how he expects such an amount to be raised, and he jokingly tells them to rob a couple of banks. It turns out that’s exactly what they do to get the money.

Sidenote: Wouldn’t it be fun to reach a point in your career where you can negotiate like this. When a client sees your quote and exclaims….where am I supposed to get that kind of money? And you say something cheeky like…cash in some RSPs, get a second mortgage, or dip into the kids education fund, school’s overrated anyhow 🙂

After reaching terms, they agree his code name from that moment will be The Jackal. Meanwhile, French Intelligence is monitoring the activities of the O.A.S for all possible threats. They soon find out about the employment of a foreign assassin and put their best officer on the job to stop him. The O.A.S in turn plants a spy in the French camp, so they are able to warn The Jackal on what’s been found out about him or his plans. Consequently, he’s able to stay one step ahead of his pursuers. A greater part of the movie from here on is about The Jackal meticulously laying plans to take out The President, and French Intelligence using all their resources internally and otherwise to catch up with him.

Before I get wrapped up in the plot of any movie, its general look has to keep me interested. Otherwise I write it off subconsciously and eventually check out physically. I like everything about the feel of this movie on DVD, the cinematic look, film grain, and most especially its subtle color in an era when popping colors was the look. The Day of the Jackal is very nicely paced. All the times I’ve seen it, I never once felt the need to reach for the remote control to skip a chapter. When we watch movies, our minds constantly problem-solve, making connections that help us anticipate what happens next or how the story will end. This movie has a way stripping all that anticipation, so you simply follow with and enjoy the story as it unravels.

Gears change and things get more interesting when The Jackal finds out his cover is blown. He’s not boxed-in yet and has time to abandon the mission. He can disappear, keep the deposit paid to him and still maintain his reputation. But he decides to push through knowing the job just got ten times harder. It’s not the logical choice, but it’s the one he makes and by doing so, pulls us deeper into the story. In the end, we get a mix of closure and mystery surrounding his real identity. So even after the curtains fall; we leave knowing and not knowing his entire truth.

Edward Fox gives a world-class performance playing The Jackal. He’s truly a pleasure to watch breathing life into the character. He’s a cold killer, a mechanic, a painter, a gentleman and plumber with the ladies. In fact years from now when you think about this movie, the two people you’ll remember are him and Michael Lonsdale, playing Lebel – the Intelligence officer assigned to the case. Many of the cast may have passed on, but something undeniably eternal is this piece of art they’ve left us with. It’s hard to put into words the appreciation I feel watching these guys perform on such a high level. This is easily one of my favorite films, if you end up checking it out, hope you enjoy it as much as I do.



Is this 143mins of my life I wish I could take back? Hell No.
Will I see it again? Yes, many times over.
Is it worth owning? Yes, I purchased the DVD.
What about the soundtrack? Adequate, not something I would buy separately though.
Should there be sequel? No.
Who will like this movie? Anyone who enjoys a good political drama.
Is it a Classic? Yes, yes and yes!


Whiplash – 2014

whiplash_ver3_smallerI feel a connection with God. Somewhere in my mid-section His presence is undeniable. It’s rhythmic, sort of like a gathering of waves in the ocean. There’s a lot of movement, some quick, some rough, but all sweet. What’s happening? Who knows. I’m emotional and like it, so I let it happen. I’m in a heightened state; a place that’s different. Let me stay here a while, and feel things words can hardly describe. To think someone planned it, me in this moment, in sync with this experience, amazing. The end is pain free, I snap out with a smile. Whatever this is, I’ll have another please!

Art without emotion is DOA. This movie had mine going in several directions, making total control mission impossible. Within its 107mins, I felt anger, sympathy, inspiration, disgust, elation, and from the music, love. It may be a while before another film like this is made. This is as real as it gets. Enough said.

I won’t go into the plot, storyline, or characters in Whiplash. I’ll rather talk about how it smacked me upside the head in a most pleasant way. The message comes through with the kind of clarity you get from bathing in cold water. Basically, this movie is asking one question – How badly do you want it? A familiar question no doubt but mennnnnnn…., you don’t know the half of it till you check this movie out.

To the writers, thank you! To the cast that makes it darn enjoyable to watch, thank you! To you reading this on my site, go see it already!

Is this 107mins of my life I wish I could get back? Hell No!
Will I see it again? Yes, yes and yes.
Is it worth owning? Yes. It’s on my Blu-Ray wish list with a price tracker for $9.99.
What about the soundtrack? Love it. Already own it and listen to it often.
Should there be sequel? No, but if they make one, I’ll see it.
Who will like this movie? Music lovers, especially those that appreciate Jazz.

Robin Hood – 2010

Robin_hoodYou watched Gladiator and thought wow, Russell killed it, what an epic performance! Since then you’ve been waiting for his next feature that does it one up. Could this be it? Robin Hood is a big big big character for anyone to play. Many of us were hooked on the TV series from childhood and grew up on this stuff. To make a legit movie that brings his character to life is a tall order for anyone. Ridley Scott knew this before taking on the challenge; and many will agree if anyone can get it right, their resume would look very much like his.

I have a personal connection with the story of Robin and couldn’t wait to see it on the big screen. With Russell playing the lead, I expected a movie that would reignite my affection for the hooded man and make me feel like a boy again. In reminiscence, I was a bit of a loner as a kid. It’s not that hanging out with other kids wasn’t fun, I just preferred exploring alone. I found riding my bike to distant places thrilling. Naturally, Mom disliked me disappearing for hours, so she paid attention to what I liked on TV and would remind me when Robin Hood was coming on. Her strategy did keep me indoors, not to mention African stations are notorious for reruns, I must have seen the entire series many times over.

The version I saw as a kid is Robin of Sherwood starring Michael Praed, and here’s how they tell the story. A young boy loses his family at the hands of the Kings’ soldiers. His entire village is annihilated. He flees to a nearby village where he grows into a man. After clashing with the law, he becomes a rebel set out to fight injustice. He meets other likeminded rebels and they grow into a gang. With swords, bows and arrows, they take from the corrupt and give to the overly taxed common people. Robin quickly becomes a local legend, a symbol of hope causing serious problems for those governing the province. In fear of a rebellion or civil uprising, the authorities place a bounty on the gang and relentlessly look for ways to end their crusade. Trap after trap is laid but they always manage an escape. Every episode in the series plots around this. The forest spirit guiding Robin, his standing up for justice, his relationship with the gang and villagers, his romance with the beautiful and witty Lady Marion.

In comparison, the new one with Russell had me a bit puzzled after seeing it, though not in a bad way. IMHO, this movie is Pre-Robin Hood. It’s a lead up to how the character came into existence, which makes me think there will be a sequel. It expands on Robin’s life before declared an outlaw and enemy to the King, which is why parts of the story felt foreign to me.

Robin Hood is an Adventure Drama, on Netflix you’ll find it under Action and Adventure. True to its categorization, we get our first battle just minutes into the movie. King Richard is trying to take a French Castle. Their walls of defense keep the King’s army outside for days, each one registering a bloody battle. To motivate his men, the King would charge across the frontline, belting out encouragements to the soldiers. A reckless behavior that eventually gets him an arrow in the neck.

Recognizing a dead king cannot pay wages, Robin (Russell Crowe) and friends abandon camp to earn their livelihoods elsewhere. While journeying through the forest, they come across an ambush. A group of knights riding to England with news of the Kings’ death have been attacked. They help to fight off the attackers but it’s too late. The knights are all dead except for one Sir Robert Loxley of Nottingham. Unfortunately, his injuries are fatal and his faith, sealed. Before drawing his final breath he pleads with Robin to honor one dying wish. This sets the stage for how Robin Longstride, a commoner and soldier in the Kings’ army goes on to become a knight.

They retrieve the King’s crown from Sir Robert’s horse and continue to England posing as the dead Knights. At the Royal Court; Robin delivers the crown to the kings’ mother and testifies to his demise in battle. Prince John (Oscar Isaac), younger brother and next in line to the throne is immediately made king. In fear of being discovered, Robin hastily leaves Court to carry out Robert’s dying wish.

Reaching Nottingham, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) presents Robin with a bold proposition. He decides to offer him a place in his house as his son. The death of Robert, his only male heir means Walter’s position will be forfeited when he dies. Robert rode off to war shortly after they were stationed in Nottingham. His subjects hardly know him and therefore won’t recognize him. Plus members of the Royal Court already think Robin is Robert, a deception that further works to their advantage. Robin accepts the offer and to complete the disguise, he also has to play husband to Robert’s wife, Lady Marion (Cate Blanchett).

Back at Court, someone is leaking military information to the French. The traitor is none other than Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong). He’s so good at being the bad guy and plays a similar role in another one of my favor ite films, Tristan and Isolde. With the absolute confidence of King John within his palms, he manipulates military command and weakens the English army. He also helps the French secure secret passage into England to prepare a surprise attack.

The King eventually discovers Godfrey’s deceit and summons all the clans. To put down this French invasion, they will need strength in numbers and will have to fight as one nation. The clan leaders gather to discuss the current state of affairs, each airing his disapproval of how the country is being governed. Robin is there to speak for Nottingham. The King promises to sign a treaty that will resolve their concerns if they join him to send the French packing. With the element of surprise no longer on their side, the French face off with the English army for a deciding battle. It’s big, it’s bloody, and one hell of an adrenaline rush.

Robin Hood has sprinkles of everything I want in these types of films, something’s always happening in the script. It delivers solid entertainment with minimal lapses of inaction. Russell and Cate work well as a couple, their romance is believable and not overdone. I think this is important considering their circumstances. Exaggerating the romance deprives other parts of the story time to develop.

The cast is solid and performs as such. Unexpectedly, I really like Oscar Isaac playing King John. Come to think of it, these guys have worked together before and feed off each other on set. Off the top of my head, I can think of at least one movie with many of the cast – Body of Lies. On the production side of things, it’s what you would expect from a Ridley film, full-bodied and mature. Amazing sets, beautiful landscapes for backdrops, believable battles, clothing that properly represent the time, realistic sound and visual effects, an overall top class production.

So is Robin Hood up one on Gladiator? Hmmmm….not quite. After Gladiator, I remember leaving the theatre with my heart still racing. But with Robin Hood, I left felling unsure whether I was impressed or upset. Honest appreciation for the movie came much later after I got it on Blu-ray and watched it again. I’ve seen it many times and still don’t feel overly consumed by it. Perhaps I should quit comparing the two because they both are exceptional movies in their own rights. Even when you repeat a recipe, there are always unknowns, things that just happen for whatever reason. Call it the universe reacting, call it chemistry, call it whatever you like, it does influence the result. Robin hood is a completely different storyline from Gladiator, and therefore a different experience. I’ll leave it at that.

Is this 140mins of my life I wish I could get back? No.
Will I see it again? Yes.
Is it worth owning? Yes. I purchased it on Blu-ray.
What about the soundtrack? Good.
Should there be sequel? Yes, I would love to see the story further developed.
Who will like this movie? People like me who enjoy anything medieval, swordfights, battles, adventure.

No Country For Old Men – Released 2007

I’m always interested in seeing anything with Tommy Lee Jones. Only a handful of guys can consistently own a character like he does. I had the pleasure of seeing No Country For Old Men on the big screen and knew right away I’ll be getting it on Blu Ray. Since purchasing it, I’ve seen it several times. The entire cast is fantastic, but months later when you think of this film, the people you will remember are Tommy Lee Jones playing Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, Javier Bardem playing the crazy hitman Chigurh, and Josh Brolin playing Llewelyn.

It’s a Crime Drama, if you have Netflix, you’ll find it under Thrillers. The story happens in a small town in Texas close to the Mexican Border. One of them places where everybody hears about it when you sneeze. Think of open dry lands, desert highways, lonesome gas stations, generations of rednecks and cowboys that have rarely been anywhere else, city centers with few businesses, acres of land between homes, horse ranches and farms.

The story begins with a drug deal gone bad, leaving a number of casualties. A war veteran (Llewelyn) going about his business, by chance discovers the scene. He finds the drugs and the buy-money, ignores the first, but takes the latter. A ruthless hitman (Chigurh) is sent in by the traffickers to recover the missing dough. The town’s Sherriff (Tom) is face to face with a new era of crime. He’s astounded by the evolution and brazenness of todays’ criminal mind. Trying to make sense of it has him questioning his ability to keep up and if its time for retirement.

Shortly after the opening, you witness a brutal murder scene that gives you a glimpse of how loco the hitman Chigurh is, and it sets the pace for the suspense that trails the entire film. This is a storyline that keeps you on the edge bursting with anticipation. There’s an early scene where he’s about to pay for gas and the owner of the gas station attends to him. Instinct tells the old man to tread carefully, there’s something ominous about this dudes’ presence. He can’t zero in on the problem, but he knows the threat is real. I think the purpose of that dialogue is to show that any random person can be on the receiving end of Chigurh’s wicked sense of justice.

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Your Client Doesn’t Like Their Pictures. Now what?

Some months ago I was asked…hey, I have a property for sale, do you shoot real estate? After declining, I walked away thinking why not give it a try. I enjoy magazine spreads with lush real estate and usually take time to digest the pictures before flipping pages. So maybe there’s a dormant real estate photographer in me to awaken. I didn’t back-paddle to pursue that job, but it spurred my curiosity. I started researching what real estate agents like to see in images, also what they pay.

Finding someone in the industry to talk to was easy. Like photographers, there are tons of brokers out there. Just browse your phone contacts and you may be surprised how many you know. I called a fella I met at an event a while back and stayed in touch with via BBM. No BS, told him straight-up I’m fishing for info. I’ll like to know how you operate with photographers. He described the packages he gets and what he pays, which quite honestly was discouraging. The only way I could fathom photographers turning a profit is volume. They must be shooting lots of properties within a short time for the dollars and cents to make sense. Anyhow, I decided to give it a go and here we are, I’ve just shot my fifth property.

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50 Shades Of Gray – Released 2015

It’s hard to believe three years have gone by since the book was released. I remember the buzz around this piece of work, OMG! My female friends either raved about what a good read it is or shrugged shoulders in utter disappointment at the end. Even I could hold my own in related conversations just from hearing so much about it. I knew the names of the main characters, a bit of the plot and that the story is spread over about 3 books.

The author, E.L. James must be set for life from the sales. A movie was probably the natural next thing to do. I went into this film with mixed expectations. I was eager to see if all the media attention the book received is well deserved. Unfair? Yes, I know, considering it’s possible the motion picture could be a poor adaption of the book.

I started paying attention to Jamie Dornan (playing Christian Grey) from the TV Series – The Fall, which I truly enjoyed. There’s a lot of criticism about casting him as Christian, but is it just me or can you also see the correlation with his character from The Fall? He’s that normal guy in the open, but underneath, he’s a complex dude with dark and eccentric desires. Dakota Johnson (playing Anastasia Steele) before now was just another face on TV to me. The remaining cast doesn’t stand out to me as well and sometimes I like that. It helps me focus on the story being told more than the people telling it.

Categorized as a romantic drama, the movie is about a sexually inexperienced “girl next door” type who finds a connection with a guy on the opposite end of the spectrum. He’s young, rich, attractive, confident, articulate, in control, and of course, mysterious. Think of the Dracula movies where he can sense a woman with “virgin” blood and wants her? She on the other hand can sense mystery and danger yet finds him irresistible. Their attraction is something of the sort. Anastasia wants to fall in love with the knight in sharp tailored suits and live happily ever after. But he’s not interested in love and doesn’t lie about it. He’s satisfied with owning her body and mind, in his own way, by his own rules.

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Chef – 2014


I saw a preview for this movie in passing and thought hmm…interesting. So when it became available on Netflix, I jumped on it. Previous experience has taught me to pay little to no attention to movie ratings, especially on Netflix. I’ll admit the 5-star rating felt reassuring I was in for a treat. I already knew it had something to do with food, which for me is already a plus.

The sight of Jon Favreau takes me back to his feature in The Sopranos, his ‘wanna be gangsta’ scenes with Christopher. Can’t say I’ve seen much of his work so if you ask if like him or his acting? I’ll say I’m indifferent about his presence in a film. He’s yet to win me over as a fan, could this be the movie that does it? We’ll see. So he wrote, directed and featured in Chef, co-starring with the likes of Scarlett Johansson, John Leguizamo, Dustin Hoffman, Oliver Platt, Robert Downey Jr. There’s no shortage of heavy hitters in this cast.

It’s a story about soul searching, finding your path, defining success and not allowing success define you. Reaching for and living out your dreams, using what feels right as a guide. This is actually one of my favorite types of stories. One where someone loses everything to find something greater. Life can get complicated when you push for the next level in any chosen career. And depending on the stakes, you may land on your feet, or find yourself rebuilding from scratch.

In this story, Carl (played by Jon Favreau) is a chef who like most people in today’s work place has lost his fire. The job has become routine; he’s treading water and doing just enough to fill tables in the restaurant with bodies. When word reaches him that a well-known food critic is soon to write a review about the restaurant, he decides to raise the bar and change the menu. His kitchen staff is excited about the challenge but the restaurant’s owner Riva (played by Dustin Hoffman), sees things differently. He’s a businessman that’s all about the cash register. In his opinion, if customers are happily paying for what’s on the menu, why rock the boat, why change anything? Soon their opinions collide, each taking firm stand. The result? Carl finds himself out of a job, with a bad review from the food critic hanging over his head.

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Olympic Medalist – Marita Payne-Wiggins

Sports isn’t my strong suit. I know it, now you do. How about that for some honesty. As a boy, I loved playing soccer as much as the next kid, and constantly wondered why their coordination was much better than mine. I still remember some of the own goals attributed to my name and rival teams thanking me for the favor. Through the years, I learned the harsh truth that we all cannot be Messi, Djokovic, LeBron, and so on. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a woman with athletic genes streaming down her bloodline. An Olympic medalist with her name engraved in history for achievements on and off the track, Mrs. Marita Payne-Wiggins.

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Happy Easter


The quote on quote ‘right’ way of getting into the photography business is finding a successful, experienced photographer and working under that person for x-amount of time. Personally, I’m all for practical learning any time any day. You end up learning things you won’t pick up from a textbook. That being said, not all aspiring pros will have the opportunity to learn from a master photographer. So how do you go Pro without seriously hanging with a Pro? Not a difficult question to answer. The Internet and how information is disseminated make it super feasible for a curious mind to gather the tricks of the trade. Key word being curious and I should add – persevering.

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Wide and Sexy

Sigma18mm_35mm F1.8

Ok, so there’s really no profound narrative to this post except straight up lust. Every time I pick up this Sigma Art Lens, I repeatedly appreciate the awesome design and ingenuity that it oozes. I find myself checking this thing out, turning it in different angles before mounting it on my camera. So I thought, why not photograph the lens and add it to my computer wallpapers. That way, our bond will never be broken. Was that a bit a much? Ok maybe it was….but hey, there it is.

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Play 255 To Win

There was a time in my photography when nailing white in product shots was a PITA. I would always blast my background with light. In my mind, blowing it out was the same as making it white. Thank goodness those days are now behind me. But to be fair and in my defence, I learned most of my photography from research and practise, not from the wise counsel of a photo guru. When I finally understood how to get clean whites in my images, I almost felt silly for not figuring it out sooner.

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More On Handling Reflective Surfaces

Anytime I set up lights for a photo shoot, I take advantage and shoot something else before breaking down the lights to free up my space. Metallic surfaces are usually tricky to capture and I was feeling for a challenge. The watch in this photo as you can see is very reflective and requires creativity to get the image right in camera. But as I’ve mentioned in another write-up, the trick to owning the lighting on reflective items is bouncing light. First I find a good angle to light from, when I’m happy with how the light behaves on the subject, then I focus on controlling it using flags and reflectors.

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Ungraded Vacation Footage from Nikon D5300 + Sigma 30mm HSM F1.4 + Tamron 90mm Macro

I hear people talk about cheap vacations to Mexico, so when my buddy asked if I’m down for a quick getaway, I respond…sure Bro, lets do it. A bit later we are on a three-way call with a travel agent going over details and I have to say, the cost quickly put those cheap vacation rumors to rest. No turning back now, the thought’s already seeded and the excitement’s taken flight. I reach into my pocket for a credit card and like a good likkle-boi eager to belt out nursery rhymes, I release the information required to seal the deal.

Decisions, decisions, decisions. This part I hate. What camera gear to bring??? Considerations are size, weight, and if stolen or destroyed, I won’t be jumping over a bridge out of grief. I’m thinking one camera and two lenses max and finally decide on the Nikon D5300, Sigma 30mm HSM F1.4 and the Tamron 90mm Macro F2.8. Both lenses I’ve used on several gigs so I know what they are capable of, but the D5300 is new. I traded my D5200 for this clicker only for its ability to shoot 1080P video at 60fps. The D5200 is a very capable walk around camera so naturally I have high expectations from its successor.

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The weather today is on point! Not just sunny, but sun that actually comes with heat. On days like this, I wanna be out there testing my manual lens. I buy Nikon AIS lenses primarily for video work but men oh men, they are so much fun when shooting pictures. Plus I truly like the feeling of focusing a lens, how the image comes into focus as I turn the lens barrel.  Okay, so I’m on my way to do some street photography when I get a text message.  “It’s frigging hot today men…lets go get some dairy queen”. Right away I’m thinking….Medium Oreo Blizzard, plan A – street photography – abandon 🙂

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Reflective Objects – Product Photography

A while back, I had trouble deciding where to focus in my journey into photography.  Knowing what I didn’t like was half the battle, so by process of elimination; I crossed out genres I wasn’t interested in. However, choosing between people and product photography is still a blurry one for me. I enjoy one just as much as the other.

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Vikings. Season 2, Episode 7

Season 2 of Vikings continues to be exciting. This show has me so whipped that I’m constantly checking the time to see how much of the 45mins is left, hoping more of the story will unravel before each episode ends.

I’ve just seen Episode 7 and men, I’m pumped! The episode begins to hint at betrayals to come. I’m thinking…ahahhhh….I see where the lies and deceit will come from, then WHAM!….the plot takes a turn that dissolves whatever theories I imagined.

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