Category Archives: Advice

6 Movies You Should Have Seen Already

By William Johnson

After scanning the list of upcoming movies in the past weeks, none particularly stuck out to me. So, I’ve decided the list a few movies that do stand out from the rest. These are the movies, from recent years, that are on my all time favorites list, and that I suggest you check out.

1. Away We Go (2009)

This film features a couple in search of the perfect place to raise their unborn daughter. Burt and Verona are still struggling to keep the lights on their mid 30’s and want start over for the sake of their child. The couple travels across to country in hopes of finding a place with the right amount of stability, including friends to support them.

Anybody familiar with The Office will recognize a much scruffier version of John Krasinski as the lead role in this comedy-drama, directed by Sam Mendes (Jarhead). This movie features comedian Jim Gaff and actress Maggie Gyllenhaal in supporting roles as well as a cast full of familiar faces.

Singer-Songwriter Alexi Murdoch provides the majority of the movie’s soundtrack with songs from his Time Without Consequence album. His indie-folk tunes direct the mood of this film almost as much as the cinematography.

What holds this movie together for me is the enduring chemistry between the two lead roles, Burt and Verona. Though both have their own dorky quirks and worries about life and people, they are able to confide in each other. Their bond and ways they handle every situation is what attracts me to this movie.

2. Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)

Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich) explores a notion originally used in Alexander Pope’s Eloise to Abelard. In both stories, a young woman falls for a teacher and wishes the memory of her love be wiped clean once she finds that she cannot have him. Kaufman provides the possibility of memory erasure in his script while director Michael Gondry helped visualize the process in modern cinema.

Eternal Sunshine travels deep into the minds of main characters Joel and Clementine, two estranged lovers who have their memories wiped of each other. Jim Carey (Yes Man) and Kate Winslet (The Holiday) provide the right amount of chemistry for this love/hate relationship gone wrong. Carey is in one of his most serious roles as Joel, who decides that he doesn’t want the procedure done halfway through and fights to keep a hold of his memories.

This film asserts the idea that removing the memory of an act does not change the type person of person you were when you committed the act. Eliminating the memory of somebody doesn’t change your tendency to be attracted to that person. In a film that audience can’t help but to identify with, Eternal Sunshine demands your emotions and your intellect with every viewing.

3. Kingdom of Heaven – Directors Cut (2005)

Ridley Scott (Gladiator) brings his usual hack and slash action elements to this movie, but with a bit of class and beauty. Orlando Bloom portrays the historic figure of Balian, a blacksmith turned defender of Jerusalem against Muslim forces during the Crusades.

The first thing audiences may notice in Kingdom of Heaven is the allure of the landscapes used in this film. Every scene attempts to include the beautiful backdrop. The detail in this film is remarkable. The crew recreated the ancient city of Jerusalem in the Moroccan Desert.

Although the Muslim people are the invading force, they are portrayed with much more respect that most contemporary films. In fact, this film provides criticism to the Christian Crusaders.

I recommend the directors cut because the original film was incomplete. Characters were reinserted to the directors cut make a more coherent story. Although this brings the running time up to 194 minutes, for anybody planning to watch it, this is the only way to truly appreciate it.

4. Anything by Quentin Tarrantino

Whether is be Kill Bill, Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds or Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino brings cinematic gold to the silver screen every time.

Tarrantino brings a sort of over the top violence and black comedy that most contemporary films are missing. His non linear story telling and over the top dialogue set him apart as one of the decades top directors. His intentional use of cliches and habit of killing off more half of the original cast in him films are trademarks of his style.

5. Up in The Air/ The Hurt Locker (2009)

I combined these two movies because the portray similar lead characters. Both The Hurt Locker and Up in The Air feature men who have been trained to do one thing, and excel in this by dedicating their lives to it. In the process, they lose the ability to live outside of their skill set.

George Clooney (Ocean’s 11-13) plays Ryan Bingham in Up In The Air, a corporate downsizer who travels across the country with his life in his backpack. His job is to lay people off when company managers are too cowardly to do it themselves. This movie follows his travels and the way he perceives people and relationships.

Jeremy Renner (Dahmer) is Sergeant First Class William James in the Academy Award Winning film, The Hurt Locker. James is a bomb specialist with an extensive service history who is assigned as the team leader of an Electronic Ordinance Disposal Unit. The Hurt Locker follows his tour in Iraq, and readjustment to home life.

While these films share similarities, they are quite different movies. I grouped them together because of the similar themes and the way both films made me feel. Up In The Air caries a theme of voluntary detachment, while the EOD unit in The Hurt Locker must find unity to succeed together.

6. Babel/Crash (2006/2004)

Babel is a combination of concurrent perspectives in regards to a shooting in Morroco that fatally wounds an American tourist. The story is shown from the perspectives of those affected and following investigation. Crash is about a car theft that systematically sparks a chain of events.

Babel and Crash have been called large and small scale versions of each other. While similar, the difference between the movies lies in how connected the groups of people are. In Crash, a series of racially charged events affects the lives of several families. Babel is based around one event that has international consequences.

Both movies, however, examine the racism and prejudice that exist in our national and global societies. The harsh realism behind these movies is necessary when discussing these issues.

1 Comment

Filed under Advice, Film, Movie Reviews, Pop Culture

FSG: Six Tips to Survive the First Year of College.

By William Johnson

I loved the first year of college. It had it’s ups and down, but I enjoyed the ride. However, there are some things I wish I knew when I started and some mistakes I wish I hadn’t made. College should be a fun and eye opening experience for everyone involved. It comes with so much freedom that it takes awhile to get adjusted to not having to ask before going out. I don’t know how many times I almost said, “I’ll have to ask my mom”, when somebody asked me to hang out. There are some things to be remembered with this new freedom, however. Here are a few tips to help you survive freshman year.

1. Go to Class!

The most commonly used phrases by subject 101 professors on the first day of class is, “The reason most students fail my class is because attendance”. No, this doesn’t mean that every teacher has a strict attendance policy.In fact, most instructors could care less if you come to class, and that’s where students miss out. Go to every class if you can. There will be days when you just can’t make it. On those days, make sure to get a copy of the notes. You’ll have classes that you don’t have to go to every session, but don’t abuse them. Remember why you’re at college to begin with.

2. Study!

I can’t stress this enough. Studying is the most important thing you can do while at school, besides going to class. Studying doesn’t have to be boring, either. Make study groups with classmates and friends. Set goals for your study times. When I had study groups this year, we made sure to take a 5-15 minute break every hour. Study groups are great for people who can’t stare at a book for hours at a time. In this setting, students can talk about each subject  until it’s understood by everybody. That being said, pick your study group partners wisely. Wasting hours of time is just as bad as not studying. Actually, it’s the same thing.

3. Eat smart/ Get out and do something!

Studies show that students either lose or gain fifteen pounds within the first year of college. Now that parents aren’t around to tell you how to eat or when to eat, managing a healthy schedule can be difficult. This is where the fabled “Freshman Fifteen” comes in. Most universities also have a dining hall of some sort. Often times, this is an open buffet sort of establishment. All-you-can-eat does not mean you should eat all you can eat. Try to keep a regular eating schedule that works for you. also, try to get out and get some exercise. Walk around campus, and explore the city or town. Most likely, your college or university has a fitness center open for student use. Use it. You’ll find that there is a lot of free time when you first get to college. Use some of that time to stay fit.

4.Respect your Roommate!

Roommates can be the best (and worst) part of your college experience. The first thing you should do is sit down and have a conversation about boundaries. Some people like to sing and listen to music obnoxiously loud in the shower, while others may yell in their sleep. Discuss these things before getting settled in. Roommate agreements are a good way to establish house rules. Set times for visitors to come over, and rules for those who spend the night. If your roommate is completely unbearable, talk to your Resident Assistant for help on how to solve the situation. If everything falls in your favor, your roommate can end up being your best friend.

5.Get involved/meet people!

Make an effort to have at least one friend in every class you have. A major part of college is meeting people and networking. Join a student organization, or hang out around campus. College is stepping stone to a better job and living completely on your own. A good thing about it is that you get to start over from high school. Use it to find yourself and grow out of your shell. Or if you don’t have one, make great friends and help them come out of theirs. As freshmen, you’re all in this boat together. Organize trips to the grocery store or movies with that one friend who has a car. Pull study groups together from your friends in class and out of class. Besides, you can’t get invited to that party you want to go to, or talk the guy/girl you saw in History if you don’t have any friends.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!

As mentioned earlier, college is a stepping stone. This means it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for help during this trial period of your life. Whether it be from your new friends, or a call back home to your parents, learning to ask for help is key to surviving through the first year. Remember that your parents are there to help you when you need it. There’s no shame in calling Mom and Dad. If you don’t have a car during your freshman year for a number of reasons, asking a friend for a ride is something you’ll end up doing at least once or twice. Going to a professor’s office hours if you don’t fully grasp a concept or definition is encouraged. Even if you want to just talk about your grade or how the class is going, professors will encourage you to stop by.

This list isn’t definitive or limited to. It’s a guide to make the transition to college easier. If you have any questions, or comments, feel free to email me or leave a comment below. Think I left something out or was too vague? Leave it below and I’ll answer your question.

2 Comments

Filed under Advice, College, Life