Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Judge

I recently watched the movie The Judge.  Despite the fact that this movie had gotten mixed reviews, I was looking forward to it and wanted to give it a shot.  Let me say, I  really enjoyed this move.  Well, "enjoy" probably isn't the most accurate word. Hard to enjoy some of the topics that were covered.  I laughed, I was moved to tears on 4 occasions, and I loved the dynamics between the characters.  It is a somewhat "dark-ish" plot, but really a movie that left an impact on me. The movie made money but not a whole lot. I think people really missed the boat on this one. For me, it was a very, very, powerful movie.

I will try to avoid spoilers so that you can continue to read in peace.  Robert Downey Jr. plays a hot shot lawyer who lives in Chicago.  Many of the cast of The Avengers, minus Sam Jackson, are having a difficult time breaking away from the super hero type cast. (Might want to watch Snowpiercer.  Chris Evans is really good in an underrated movie)  I know that Downey is trying very hard to occasionally do something other than Sherlock or Ironman.  This was a big movie for him to able to show that he can do just that.  However, he is basically Tony Stark in the courtroom.  I expected any minute for his red and gold suit to come flying in.  On the surface, this role was very similar to his greatest role, Iron Man.  That's okay though, because I think his casting/portrayal of Tony Stark/Ironman is one of the best roles in the last 15 years.  Iron Man has turned him into the highest paid actor in America even in a year when he doesn't make a movie.  Think about how crazy that sounds, because it is 100% true.  Anyway, you find out very soon that there is more depth to this character than perhaps Tony Stark.

He is called home because of a family situation that needs his attention.  He expects his trip to be a short one, it ends up not being so short.  This is where you meet his father, played by Robert Duval.  Robert Duval is one of the best living actors.  He doesn't disappoint in this movie either.  He plays a rigid, black and white, old, crusty, dude.  Not all that of a stretch from many of his other roles.  Just like RD Jr. in this movie.  The back and forth between he and RD Jr. was absolutely fantastic.  One of the best on screen duos and duels I've seen in a while. Seriously.

I don't know much about the lawyer aspects in the film, so I cannot comment much on that part.  While Dad is a lawyer, he wasn't a trial lawyer. The rest of it, I thought was great (I had no problem with lawyer parts for the record).

I am fortunate to know what its like to have a fantastic father.  So the good parts of Duval's parenting, I totally could relate to.   More specifically, I am fortunate to have a father who has always had only one sweetheart in Mom.  This is a theme in the movie. I know what its like for my kids to have fantastic grandparents.  I know a little bit about the struggles of working the way you want to and being the father you want to.  This is a theme.  I know what its like to have a big brother that was the better one of the children.  This is a theme in the movie.  One place where I couldn't relate to the movie, is I am grateful that I didn't have to worry about obtaining my father's approval.  Well I constantly worry about this.  So to that end, I was captivated by the scene in the kitchen. Thankfully, my father tells me when he is proud of me and that he loves me.  This happens almost daily. So that void that RD Jr. has in the movie, I do not have.  Thank you for that, Dad.  The theme that I found most compelling throughout the movie is the theme on a man's legacy. This is something all men care about.  From U S Grant to Ronald Reagan.  How will we be remembered?  What will people say when they talk about us after we die? More importantly, what are we willing to do to build our legacy?  What are we willing to compromise in order to keep it?

In the end, this movie is about home.  Not just in the bricks and mortar sense, too.  Where you are from, who is there, who is buried there,  your last name.  All that defines you, all that you call home.  Like RD Jr. I find myself in Chicago because of work.  Like RD Jr. discovers in the end, not only do you have to do your last name proud, you have to be proud of your last name.  It is all you got.

Monday, February 2, 2015

My dearest Mildred...

2nd February, 1917

My dearest Mildred,

It has been far too long since I have written, and even longer since I have gazed upon your beautiful skin.  I long for the time when we can be in each others warm embrace again. Its not so much your embrace that I cherish, it is the warmth.  The memories of the warmth are the only thing that keeps me going during this horrible winter.  We spend much of day digging trenches (above) and fighting off the rats.  The rats here are as big as dogs.  We are in the middle of somewhere France, called Park Ridge.  Translated to English its pronounced Park Ridge.  I have never been this cold in my life.  The cold numbs you to the bone and it seems that it is impossible to warm up. There is no more room for the snow.  We are all tapped out.  You actually warm up a little when we have to dig more trenches, but then the cold just returns in full.

I miss you Mildred, I wish this damned war was over. We consider it a victory if we can dig 10 yards. 10 yards is progress. I'm not sure this war will ever end with this mentality. I have been fighting for seemingly six months now, and I don't know how much more snow I can bear. I don't feel any pride in digging snow for my country. All day long all I see is people digging and I think I am next? Will I be digging tomorrow? I see people jump up out of the trenches alive and then two seconds later fall back down dead from frostbite. Two weeks ago while sitting in the trenches someone started yelling Snow! Snow! In that instant I feared for my life. I grabbed a snow mask, hoping that I would get it on in time, so that I would live to see another day. There aren't enough snow masks for everyone so I had to watch my friend freeze from the snow. I can't believe I am here and I wake up every morning wondering if I will wake up tomorrow. Pray that the war is over soon and I am able to return home alive.

Pray for peace, pray for our health, pray for an end to this struggle, but most of all, pray for an end to the snow.

With all my love,