Review: The Shallows

The Shallows

Man vs. Nature, actually woman vs. nature, nature in this case being one very large, very mean, and very hungry shark who likes to swim around in shallow water devouring surfers like they were Scooby snacks. The cinematography early in the film was truly breathtaking. The director did a fantastic job of capturing the art of surfing in all it’s slow motion glory, which also added to the building of suspense. Suspense continues to build, as the audience is left with the feeling we know something that our limited cast does not know, namely that a huge finned predator lurks just below them. The effect of looking up at people on their boards from underwater gives, us, the audience, the viewpoint of the beast itself. I like the fact that this story unfolds with a smaller cast, which only gets more limited as the large black mass in the water circles around the injured girl in the bikini, who finds herself stranded on a small rock awaiting rescue attempts, that inevitably end up with the rescuers becoming chum for the monstrosity. Too truly get the most out of this film, one must resist the temptation to become overly critical about the details and look at it as an artistic expression of a shark story–it’s not a documentary–but some of the discrepancies can be difficult to ignore. Overall it’s pretty well done, and the shark is terrifying, at least until it start’s doing some things that just don’t seem plausible, but fortunately most of that behavior is towards the end. The plot has a few twist, but mostly it’s girl trying not to end up like a Starburst chewable, or gummy worm. Mostly I liked it, but for me some of the ridiculousness of what the shark does and how he ends up was slightly difficult to get past, it felt sort of like they were running out money, or lost a backer for the film, and had to hurry up and finish it before high tide rolled in. I guess all fish tales have to end somewhere, and this one ended up in bizarro world. Starts strong, finishes a little fishy. I am not giving it any amount of anything, no stars, no surfing Scooby snacks, no drunk natives, no anything; just go see it if you want to, it’s not too long, and it’s not half bad…unless your the drunk native…then for you…it’s really bad…like the shark bit me in half bad. Ouch! I hate when that happens. Until next time…
The Smyth has Spoken.

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Independence Day: Resurgence–Review

Independence Day: Resurgence

If you knew how a story begins and how it ends, what would you be going to see? The effects? Those are pretty cool, but they can’t carry a movie, with the only exception being maybe transformers. I don’t understand why every alien has to look just like the one in the original alien movie, with only superficial differences. Sure this one is more diesel, but he’s the same guy just jacked up on ‘roids. That would be steroids not hemorrhoids folks. Same scary face covered with the same gooey slime.Then again there is a lot about this movie that rings redundant.
The bible says “there is nothing new under the sun” whoever wrote that passage would easily find that wisdom confirmed if they watch Jeff Goldblums character. He is the exact same dude in every movie. In every movie he stars in, his weird genius doctor guy character is a clone for every other one; if you took the guy out of Jurassic Park and dumped him in this flick, it wouldn’t skip a beat. At least the other actors had some kind of unique quality to bring to the table. The acting in general wasn’t bad, especially when you consider the corniness of some of their lines. One saving grace is Bill Pullman’s president character has a really cool sounding voice. If the other actors weren’t getting paid crazy amounts of dough, I would almost feel bad for them having to subject themselves to a screenplay that easily could have been written by a twelve year old in a foreign country that just learned English last week. All the relationships were extremely shallow probably because there wasn’t enough time to allow for development when the whole world is about to be destroyed by a queen mother of a generic alien and her pissy little alien hive. Whaaah. Nobody is getting an academy award, or any other award for this one folks…unless…how about corniest film of the year, that one it could easily win. Most of the jokes barely worked, and there wasn’t enough of them. The problem is without an occasional comic relief punchline to break it up, then everyone has to try to be serious, because they sure as hell aren’t profound, so this screws up the whole suspension of disbelief idea, and you end up stuck drowning in corny world with a recycled script full of badly thought out lines for a life preserver. Everybody say… HELP! Sorry too late, I already drowned. Maybe I can save you, save you the twenty plus dollars and the two hours of your life your never getting back. It get’s one and a half out of a potential four–alien mother ships.
I like saying that–alien mother ships. Anyway…watch it on the telly…

This is the Wisdom of the Smyth.

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The Universal Language

The Universal Language

So this is a little story. This story is only little because it involves a brief encounter. An ordinary moment normally lost in a great open ocean of moments, but instead carefully placed on a slide and slipped beneath the microscope lense of life. The type of encounter most likely dismissed a few brief moments after it has occurred. The type of moment, the type of encounter, that is so ordinary, so mundane, that it would scarcely qualify for repeating in the course of conversation, let alone being revisited in the written form. Yet, here it is, this moment, the one that would seem to be casually destined for the pile of memories unworthy of recall, of memories cast aside as entirely insignificant, here it is…and I struggle to remember.
At universal studios in Orlando Florida there is a ride. A fantastic ride in the wizarding world of Harry Potter known as “THE FORBIDDEN JOURNEY.” Sounds somewhat imposing now doesn’t it? Actually it is a whole lot of fun. You are placed into a sort of carriage type vehicle with four seats which is then tossed in all directions along a track while otherworldly 3D images are thrown at you with incredible stunning realness. This ride is a masterpiece in themed amusement park evolution. These visual and kinetic combinations have staying power, they penetrate your psyche, they are not so easily forgotten. There is that word again…forgotten.
The people who operate the ride, the smiling faces taught to be polite, taught to be responsive to the special needs of patrons, some handicapped, some overweight, taught to treat everyone with kindness and respect, those people, they don’t normally stand out so much during a visit to a fantasy world so intent on helping us escape from our conventional lives. They are not supposed to be the thing that jumps out most in our minds. That is not their job. In the course of their daily routines conversation is usually kept to a minimum in order to maintain maximum efficiency and keep the lines moving smoothly. All for the guest, all the time.
So why then, when I see that face, his face, do I try so hard to remember?
In that face I see something hauntingly familiar.
At first when I heard one of the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting worked at the Harry Potter ride, I thought maybe it was the Hispanic young man who talked to us for several minutes before we got on the Hogwart Express. He asked us where we were from, when we said Connecticut, he told us he would call ahead to the ride at the other end and get us in the express line. He was very pleasant, caring, and thoughtful. It wasn’t until I found out the young man on the news worked for a different ride, and I saw the photo of his face, that I realized he could not be the same one. But this one, the one who got killed, I see his face and I know I saw him as well. Maybe we didn’t converse, maybe I didn’t say something funny or ask him a dumb question, maybe we never even talked at all. Yet still I see something, something eerily familiar every time they show his smiling mug and dark curly hair lined up in a row with all the others.
Maybe it’s all in my mind. Maybe I never saw him at all. Maybe when I see him, and found out some small piece of information like where he worked, knowing I had been there recently, knowing my path and his converged, if only for a few seconds, maybe he feels just a little bit realer to me than all the others with whom I had no connection whatsoever. Each and every victim has roots and connections; for no man is an island. Each and every victim leaves behind loved ones who will miss them dearly, and I think that is what I am really seeing. A person with an ordinary job, who went out one night like lot’s of people do, and became part of something that in itself is not so extraordinary, not anymore, and maybe I see in this young man something I see in all of us–vulnerability.
At the same time I know in my heart this hate, that would seek to divide us, it is not ubiquitous. In the end it is love that built this world; it is love that unites us; and it is love and only love that is the universal language of all things.

Review: Finding Dory


A great movie for the families, children by themselves, or parents who don’t like anything else that is showing right now. That last catagory is me. People have been waiting like thirteen years for the sequel to “Nemo”, now finally it is here. Judging by the lack of empty seats in the cinema, it looks like this one is a hit at the box office. For my purposes, I found it entertaining in a cute way, while not as funny as I hoped it would be. The opening skit involving a group of sand pipers on the beach was really creative and well put together. The advances in how they show the light in the water and other superb techniques of cartoonish production were fairly impressive to behold. Ellen does a good job as the voice of “Dory” thus bringing the little fish a personality that naturally comes with a corny message about handicaps and how they can be a blessing in disguise. The old red nosed reindeer tale except the deer are fish, and instead of circling the globe with gifts for children, these little finned goof balls are trying to reunite Dory with her blue, black, and yellow, fishhead parents. Dory meets some interesting and slimy characters along her quest, but it is the squid/octopus that steals the show. She spends a lot of time swimming through assorted pipes, but luckily for her she doesn’t end up in the sewer drain wrestling with a native finless brown left over from the catch and release program of some random humans morning constitution. Needless to say, it could be funnier. Here at the we like to tell it like it is: If you waited thirteen years, you might be slightly disapointed, if you go to see it for the hell of it, then you still might be slightly disapointed, but if you watch it at home and don’t spend the twenty plus dollars, now that is an aquarium of a different color. There you have it folks, nothing to write home about, barely something to blog about.

Review : Warcraft


Let’s talk Ork. The costumes in this movie were truly off the chart. It has the feel of “Lord of the Rings” and the costume quality of “Mad Max”. These Ork dudes are some diesel ass, jacked up, troll looking creatures, wielding Thor like hammers and other assorted insidious implements of a substantial bone crushing capacity. Their world has run out of resources, so they need to take on another one, one way or another. For Orks this means war, which is cool with them, because that is how they solve problems, not all that different from humans in the real world. The acting is decent all around. The story has some surprising unexpected twist that work well enough to keep you interested. Watching Orks and humans do battle is pretty awesome but would hardly make a whole movie. This is not a movie for everyone, because not everyone likes huge muscle bound cave man like creatures with upside down walrus teeth riding gargantuan wolves doing battle with humans, giant eagles, and powerful wizards. I thought the whole thing was pretty darn entertaining, and the 3D just added to the overall Mongolian barbarian viking effect. If you have ever played the game you would probably be a big fan, if your like me and the only game you play on line is poker than that factor is null and void. I can’t think of anything funny to write about it, not sure why, maybe Orks are serious business. Go see it for yourself if you like fantasy adventures with remarkable costumes and story lines that almost guarantee a sequel. One weird note:the credits at the end carry on for an eternity, and they don’t turn on the lights right away, so you sit there like a big dummy waiting for something to happen, and the only thing that happens is more credits. I can’t ever remember going to see a film and being tricked into watching fifteen full minutes of credits after the flick is over, it reminds me of getting sucked into a boring conversation and waiting for someone to shut the fuck up so you can leave. Overall: not half bad. It gets two and a half (out of four) frozen Ork farts.

The Smyth has Spoken
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Review : Conjuring 2

Conjuring 2

If you like scary, this ones for you. Easily one of the scariest movies I have ever seen. The way we see it at the loop-hole there are three types of scary: being startled– when shit jumps out at you and your not expecting it, Action fear–where your afraid for the characters because of their situations, and realistic fear–when the shit seems so totally plausible that it’s just plain creepy. This film has all three. The fact it is based on a true story doesn’t mean much, I mean a lie could be based on a true story, right. What was refreshing is this is in no way a slasher flick, with inappropriately dressed teenage girls running away from some ridiculous masked killer by hiding in the dumbest place anyone can think of. What it is, however, is a well put together, extremely creepy, soil your scivvy’s, jump out of your seat, choke on your twenty dollar popcorn, totally freak you out, type of nightmarish fun. The child actors deserve props, they were compelling in their roles as victims of blatant demonic possession. This demon had some seriously big cahonie’s. He, she, or it, could do some crazy messed up shit. Looking at cases like this one may have you rethinking your ideas on what lies beyond the grave. If there is a hell, and the characters that hang out there are anything like the nun-what beast in this flick, we all better consider memorizing the hail Mary routine and keeping our grandma’s crucifix close at hand. Just when you thought every possible haunted house scenario has been played out, along comes the Conjurer, with a great back story, and cinematic subtlety, that gives the story credibility enough to freak you right the fuck out. When they say don’t go alone, they are not kidding. Seeing this movie alone would be like going for a Halloween stroll in a Salem graveyard to sacrifice your neighbors kitty on the headstone of a burned witch. Okay, maybe that is a little extreme, but you get the point, this is one frightening flick, that is worthy of your cabbage and your time. I give it three out of four inverted crucifix’s.

The Smyth has Spoken.

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Barb’d Wire: The Problem With Labels

Is it correct to call a person of color African American? Some say no, because not everyone “of color” has African roots. That makes sense. I am Caucasian and I don’t want someone speculating where my family tree originated, and then labeling me in such a way. European American ­­doesn’t even sound right. So how about “black”? To be perfectly honest, I always felt uncomfortable using that designation. The reason is, that I don’t call people of Indian descent “red” or people from the east “yellow” or even brown people “brown” so why call darker people black, when many of them are not black at all. This brings up another point. I do not like being called white. First of all, I am not white in the same way brown (using this just to make a point) people are not black. The only truly white people I’ve ever seen were Albino’s and they are sort of translucent. So if I’m not white, then what am I?­ off ­white, beige, tan, eggshell,­not too sure? My mother always told me she knew when I was using heavily because my skin turned gray. My poor mom.
In these days of political correctness which should be perhaps changed to “language awareness” everyone is supposed to be selective with their choice of labels. Let’s face it, if you need to describe someone in a hurry, and you don’t know that persons name, you are going to have to use some trait to describe them. Say they just committed a crime and you have to describe the suspect to police, how are you going to do that? Most likely you are going to go with the things you noticed first: Tall, short, male, female, white, black, etc. then maybe what he/she was wearing and so forth. It is highly unlikely, if you get to court that anyone is going to challenge your description because you said “the defendant was black” when clearly the defendant is brown. That won’t happen.
So the whole idea of labeling based on color may be wrong, but in some instances it is a necessary evil. Maybe all this media hype has just made us too damn sensitive? If you are like me, and are just plain lousy at remembering names, then the need to find accurate descriptions for people comes up often. I was always told that black and white were not colors at all. So who are these people of color? If they are darker people, then are lighter people, people of no color? People lacking in color? It’s enough to drive you crazy. Maybe a lot of people (of whatever) are getting sick and tired of all this nit-picking. Maybe the pendulum has swung too far in one direction and is now starting to swing back the other way. It sure seems that way–when you see how many people are supporting Donald Trump.

This was printed in the latest (June 2016) edition of “Beat of the Street” newspaper
Published by The Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford CT.

Random Rant: Food Stamps

Food Stamps and Social Media
That’s right folks it’s random rant time here at the Today’s topic is food stamps and social media. I have observed several different forums for bashing food stamp recipients on the world wide web, some of these include memes, you-tube video’s, and commentaries about what people buy and the possibility of drug testing food stamp recipients. Since people are so eager to share their opinions while ducking behind their little monitors and bravely punching their silent keystrokes, I think I am entitled to share mine. At least I went through the trouble of creating a blog which seems somehow more legitimate than just sharing someones nasty little meme to make a point.
First of all is someone buys steaks or twenty pounds of Frito’s what business is it of yours, it’s food, let them eat what they want. This is addressed to those you-tubers who think it’s so funny to harass people on gov’t assistance. Really, if it makes you feel better about yourself to laugh at people when they are out grocery shopping, then I say go check your priorities. Maybe we should come to your house and make a video about all the food you probably waste on a daily basis. News flash–you aren’t the food stamp police cowboy, so mozie on back to your inbred clan and find a better use of your non-existent talent okay there video gangster.
Sure, I know, you work hard and pay your taxes, so everybody else needs to pull there own weight. Another news flash: the ones that aren’t paying taxes are the people like Donald Trump, who are so greedy they want to take and take without putting anything in to the system. The people who are struggling are not the ones you need to worry about, they pay taxes on everything they buy and use, it’s unavoidable. When they get on their feet they don’t hire fancy accountants and lawyers to keep them from their obligations.
This is for all you meme pirates: drug testing people on assistance is just another way to grow gov’t. Our gov’t does nothing efficiently…nothing. The whole drug law bullshit was just a big fat excuse to lock people up, steal their money, and create more division among the classes. Nobody will tell you this, but I will, without the underground economy the whole system comes crashing down. The black market is equal to or larger than the above board economy. When the shit hit’s the fan, like it is in Venezuela right now, it’s the black market that helps people survive. So don’t be so quick to condemn everything and believe all the propaganda peddled by the secret agenda oriented media.
One last point. If you are fortunate enough to have a steady income, to be healthy enough to enjoy the fruits of your labor, then rejoice, not everyone is so blessed. Sure there will be abuses, sure some people will take advantage, but we shouldn’t look around at our nice houses, our newer automobiles, our plentiful resources, and say “hey, someone else is getting a free ride.” Don’t make the assumption that everyone on food stamps is taking advantage of the system. I was an active addict for over ten years, I own that, I don’t want assistance, I need assistance. Now I am in college working on my degree. I look forward to the day when I can put more in than I take out. Technology has made it real easy to push a few buttons and express your opinion, try looking a mother in the eye and telling her no she can’t have food for her hungry child. We are so blessed to live in the bread basket of the world, feeding our own people not only reduces crime and helps maintain order, but it is the right thing to do.
The Smyth has Spoken

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Popstar : Review

Popstar is a fairly dope little parody that follows the imaginary life of Conner 4real from his start in a boy band, to his eventual solo career, and then full circle with the bands reunion at an award show. What makes the movie work, is the integration of interviews with actual famous people, like 50 Cent, Nas, Usher, and countless others who give their accounts of what the band meant to them, and how the breakup effected their own careers and work. It is some very funny stuff. You will absolutely not come out of this movie without a few really good laughs…won’t happen. While we may laugh at the outrageous and ridiculous antics of Andy Samberg as the popstar, we are essentially laughing at the truth, which is entirely as off-the-wall as this movies portrayal. We, as a society, create hero’s out of individuals hardly deserving of such admiration (see Kardashians) giving them access to unlimited money and resources, and then smile to ourselves when they self destruct in very public ways. This is either extremely sad, or extremely funny. This particular film, although not a documentary, is formatted like one, giving it just the right mix of conventional reality television and media frenzy hype techniques, to document the bombastic and narcissistic lifestyle of a man who found fame at an early age. It scores very high on the dick joke meter, not so much on the hooter scale. The songs our famous popstar performs are very clever and dare I say–hilarious. Overall, it’s a fun ride. I give it three out of four, improperly discarded, slightly used, cherry flavored, condoms.

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