Saturday, May 21, 2016

'At The Movies, With Harvenut Puritan'

We all like movies...I don't think anyone would argue that statement. Hollywood provides us with a massive variety of films for our viewing pleasure in various categories: drama, comedy, action, science fiction, fantasy, romance, westerns, animation, crime, documentaries, they do it all, the entertainment is endless. I've noticed the acting and writing has never been so talented and accomplished as it is now.

I don't consider myself a movie critic. I have compiled a list of my Top 30 movies. Obviously, I have excluded certain classics that do appeal to me but I haven't watched them yet. I know some folks may disagree with my choices (everyone's tastes are different) they are just my recommendations.

My Top 30 are listed alphabetically and each of the following movies is my own synopsis. I purposely wrote a very short summary on each film trying to keep it brief and to the point, not giving away any surprises of spoiler here we go.

The Anderson Tapes - 1971, Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam. A released convict plans a major robbery at a posh New York City apartment building. Martin Balsam is great.

Born On the Fourth of July - 1989, Tom Cruise, Raymond J. Berry, Caroline Kara. Based on a true story about a Viet Nam veteran returning home dealing with personal issues. Maybe the best performance ever by Tom Cruise.

Broken City - 2013, Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta Jones. A big city mayor hires a private detective to investigate his wife because he is suspicious of her infidelity. Some nice twists in this one.

Crash - 2004, Sandra Bullock, Matt Dillon, Don Cheadle, (Academy Award Winner Best Picture). Story focusing on racism in Los Angeles. Some superb stories happening here.

Die Hard - 1988, Bruce Willis, Allan Rickman. An NYPD cop arrives in Los Angeles at his wife's company Christmas party only to find it has been invaded with terrorists. Great action never a dull moment.

Flight - 2012, Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, Don Cheadle. An airline pilot is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Another wonderful performance by Denzel.

The Flim Flam Man - 1967, George C. Scott, Sue Lyon, Michael Sarrazin. A confidence man 'plays' the deep south. A fun and easy going movie. George C. Scott is great.

The Final Countdown - 1980, Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katherine Ross, James Farentino. The U.S.S. Nimitz enters a time warp that would change history. Actually filmed aboard the U.S.S. Nimitz, the ending may have you thinking to some extent.

Forrest Gump - 1994, Tom Hanks (Academy Award Winner Best Actor), Robin Wright, Gary Sinise. A simple and unintelligent man's life is portrayed through several decades. One minute you're laughing, the next minute you have tears in your eyes. Tom Hanks is nothing less than brilliant, great soundtrack.

The French Connection - 1971, Gene Hackman (Academy Award Winner Best Actor), Roy Schreider. Based on a true story, two NYPD narcotic detectives 'catch wind' of a shipment of heroin entering the city. Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture. Extremely realistic. Gene Hackman is brilliant.

Glory - 1989, Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington (Academy Award Winner Best Supporting Actor), Morgan Freeman. A true story about the first black regiment fighting along side the Union army in the American Civil War. An excellent civil war movie.

Gone Girl - 2014, Ben Affleck, Roseamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris. A man is accused of murdering his wife after she disappears. Some nice twists in this one.

Home Alone - 1990, Macauly Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern. A young boy is mistakenly left at home by himself and must 'face off' against two burglars. A fun Christmas movie.

The Judge - 2014, Robert Downey Jr., Robert Duvall. An arrogant and conceited lawyer must represent his father (a retired judge) who is charged with murder. A great flowing movie, with a terrific story.

Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 - 2004, Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine. An ex assassin's boss wants her dead. One of Quentin Tarratino's best.

Kingsmen: The Secret Service - 2014, Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson. A private organization attempts to stop a genius from controlling the world. A bit of a take off of James Bond movies but constant action in this one, very enjoyable.

Lawless - 2011, Tom Hardy, Shia Labeouf, Guy Pearce. True story of the Bondurant brothers' illegal moonshine operation in 1931 Virginia. Excellent movie depicting the Depression era Unites States.

Madigan - 1968, Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens. Not to be confused with the T.V. series. Two NYPD detectives are given 72 hours to recapture the killer who escaped them. Great cop flick. Four different stories going on here.

Nebraska - 2013, Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb. An elderly man is obsessed with collecting his million dollar prize he thinks he has won. Filmed in black and white. Bruce Dern is excellent, with a fantastic soundtrack.

Old Boy - 2013, Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson. A man is kept in confinement for twenty years then released back into society. Some nice twists here with a huge shocker at the end.

Phone Booth - 2003, Colin Farrell, Forest Whitaker, Kiefer Sutherland. An egotistic man is kept hostage in a phone booth by an unknown gunman. Colin Farrell is great.

Platoon - 1986, Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, Williem Dafoe. The horrors of the Viet Nam war seen by a raw recruit. Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture. Tom Berenger is absolutely fantastic.

The Polar Express - 2004, Tom Hanks. A young boy has a difficult time believing Santa Claus exists. Animated. A lovely and heart warming Christmas movie.

Prisoners - 2013, Hugh Jackman, Jake Cyllenhaal. A father becomes fixated on finding the kidnapper of his daughter. A huge and great twist in this one.

Raiders of the Lost Ark - 1981, Harrison Ford, Karen Allen. An American archaeologist is searching for a lost artifact, the only are the Nazis. Total entertainment, constant action.

Rainman - 1988, Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman (Academy Award Winner Best Actor). A self centered man finds out he has an autistic brother. Dustin Hoffman is excellent.

Reservoir Dogs - 1991, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Michael Masden, Steve Buscemi. A group of gangsters are brought together to perform a jewellery store heist. Very realistic movie with a splendid soundtrack.

Sex and the City 1 - 2008, Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Chris Noth. Carrie and Mr. Big plan their wedding. Some emotional scenes in this one.

Skyfall - 2012, Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Borden. Someone is trying to kill 'M' and destroy 'M16'. The best James Bond movie I have ever seen, continuous action.

Star Trek: The Final Frontier - 1989, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Deforest Kelly. A Vulcan hijacks the Enterprise to pursue his fantasy. An awesome story with some great Klingon music.


So, those are my choices. Hollywood will continue to make excellent movies for years to come. Their mastery to produce entertaining films will never cease. So grab some snacks and a couple of adult beverages and view some of my favourites...hopefully you will enjoy.

The End

Harvenut Puritan

Sunday, May 1, 2016

'Where Do We Go, When It's Over'

Back in March of this year, I had the unfortunate experience of attending an event no one enjoys...a funeral. My Executive Assistant's ex-sister-in-law passed away at the age of 69. Both ladies had kept in touch with each other over the years. I only met her a few times. She was a loving and caring individual with a nice bit of a dry sense of humour...overall I found her to be a real 'hoot'. For some reason whenever I hear Boney James' smooth jazz song titled 'Vinyl' it reminds me of her...R.I.P. and God Rest Your Soul.

The service was Roman Catholic and the priest knew the deceased personally and mentioned a couple of pleasant and humorous stories about her. During the memorial, he stated something that puzzled me. Like all Roman Catholic funerals they provide communion (eating the bread and drinking the wine representing Jesus Christ's body and blood) for the congregation but the priest made it clear if  any members of the assemblage weren't Roman Catholic they couldn't partake in communion.

I realize religions idolize and pray to their own Gods. Christianity has many denominations such as Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic (just to name a few) but we all believe in the same God and Jesus Christ...we are all Christians. We celebrate Christmas on Dec. 25, mourn Good Friday and honour and glorify Easter Sunday. I don't understand, if an individual is confirmed (qualified to engage in Holy Communion) they shouldn't be denied to participate in Holy Communion...we all praise and worship the same God and Jesus Christ.

My parents raised me under the Anglican faith. When I was a young boy they made me go to church while they stayed home. I was finally (and I mean finally) confirmed after three attempts of writing the test...even on my third effort I failed...finally, the Reverend gave up on me and said I was could say at least my intention was there. Science and theology were two subjects I just couldn't comprehend.

I am very suspicious and leery on religion...I consider myself an agnostic. I question whether God, the divine (supreme beings and spirits) or the supernatural (Jesus Christ walking on water) actually transpired. Religious philosopher William L. Rowe 1931-2015 stated an agnostic neither believes nor disbelieves in God...that is a clear cut definition on my feelings.

A very good friend of mine mentioned to me years ago that God and Jesus Christ and religion as a whole was nothing more than a times, I'm inclined to agree with him I do question the history of religion throughout the ages. Is it possible a lot of different versions were established and expressed in stories that have been twisted, turned and exaggerated over the years into favourable tall tales?

We have all heard the saying "second coming of Christ"...I've been hearing it for over fifty years. I'm very inquisitive why his arrival is taking such a long time...has it been deferred for some odd reason? Look at all the wars in the last century and let's observe the total amount of casualties of the large scale conflicts: World War 1 - 38 million, WW2 - 60 million, Korean - 3,217,000, Viet Nam - 1,450,000 and Middle East - 1,000,000. You certainly don't have to be a whiz at mathematics to calculate the shocking and gruesome figure of bloodshed...over 100 million fatalities, where are you, Jesus?

Now, let's perceive the condition of the world as of this moment(and I'm not talking about climate change) the horror, bedlam, and absolute's never been so dreadful. The corrupt governments, crime, financial instability, homelessness, hunger, mental illness, people, especially children dying from 'incurable' diseases, poverty, racism, refugees, terrorism, unemployment, violence (have I forgot any?) have made this planet into a ticking time bomb. As far as I'm concerned Jesus can make a guest appearance at any time and annihilate all the hardship, misery and turmoil the human race is enduring...five will get you ten, we would welcome him with open arms.

We all know the world's population is comprised of all different types of personalities and hundreds of millions of the inhabitants believe in their own religion. However, there are a few people that are in complete despair. They are lonely, seeking guidance, direction and a longing they can trust someone or at least something...they have to rely on some sort of entity or individual. Unfortunately, on occasion, that populace becomes associated with questionable and controversial coteries.

Jim Jones was a sect leader of the Peoples Temple which he created in Indianapolis, Indiana in 1955. He was responsible for the Jonestown Massacre on Nov 18/78 in Jonestown, Guyana where 909 of his church followers (men, women, and children) committed suicide from drinking cyanide-laced 'Kool-Aid'. Apparently Jones committed suicide by shooting himself.

David Koresh was a prophet of the faction called the Branch Davidians who resided in Waco, Texas during the Clinton Administration. On April 19/93 after a 51-day siege by the United States government, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) discharges tear gas into the Davidians compound and 'somehow' a fire started. Eighty of Koresh's devotees including men, women and children perished in the blaze. According to the F.B.I. Koresh's right-hand man (Steve Schneider) shot and killed Koresh because he thought he was a fraud and then committed suicide with the same gun.

I don't believe in cults especially what Jones and Koresh represented and preached. I watched the entire ordeal of Waco including the congressional hearings after the incident as well as documentaries about the blockade. However, I will say one thing, in my opinion, the authorities rudely mishandled that situation and I think they know it.

There are an abundance of evangelists in the world and a few of them declare themselves faith healers. Ernest Angley, Benny Hinn and Peter Popoff appear in my mind. These three 'pastors' are notably wealthy individuals...just look at their custom made wardrobes. Angley owns his own television station and Hinn has his own TV show. In 2005 Popoff was worth $23 million and in 2006 his ministry changed from a non-profit business to a religious organization making it tax exempt...of course he's going to do that, why wouldn't he? He has taken his crusade to a higher lever...he markets and promotes Russian Miracle Spring Water. I have seen his fascinating water advertised on infomercials. Popoff proclaims this amazing Adams Ale will provide miraculous protection from disease and disability along with financial prosperity...stupid me, all these years I've been drinking tap water.

I have seen Angley and Hinn perform their 'project' on television, curing persons with physical handicaps, sickness, and incurable diseases. When people are told their days are limited they can become frantic and desperate...they will literally do anything to stay alive. These folks, a lot like cult members, are reaching out to these zealots for a magical cure for themselves of family members. People that are in these crucial dilemmas will also donate money to these extremists and attend their live acts and's a worldwide event. Evidence has shown, at times, the mind can be extremely powerful and function in mysterious and positive ways. However, do I believe Angley, Hinn, and Popoff can answer is very simple, NO!!!

I remember reading about people who had contracted Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (A.I.D.S.) and were spending literally thousands of dollars for a so-called medication cures that were listed on the internet. The same can be said about the 2013 movie 'Dallas Buyers Club' starring Matthew McConaughy, Academy Award Winner for Best Actor, Jared Leto, Academy Award Winner for Best Supporting Actor and Jennifer Garner. The film is about a dying A.I.D.S. patient seeking a cure. When we hear death knocking sometimes anything goes.

So, when each of our movies have finished and our numbers are finally called, where do we go?...heaven, hell, somewhere else or absolutely nowhere. Essentially, religion asserts good people enter heaven and bad people appear in hell. The myth also claims heaven is high in the sky and hell is deep in the ground, like a scary and frightening cavern.

I think the vast majority of us have broken at least one of the Ten Commandments in our lives...I'm guilty. When we have offended, do we go to Tophet because our sins weren't washed away by frequenting church? Certain Christian branches dismiss homosexuality and same-sex marriages...are those people classified as immoral and rejected admission into paradise and wind up in hell? What about past and present evil dictators and diabolical murderers, pedophiles, rapists and serial killers...are they condemned to damnation for their wicked and atrocious offences they have committed or do they just burn? Perhaps their non-lubricated brains and unbalanced minds and souls are cleansed and purified from their heinous activities and start exhibiting appropriate behaviour...I believe this is what religion calls purgatory.

We have all seen artists paintings of God and the Devil...they portray them as men. However,  maybe God is a man and the Devil is a woman, or vice-versa, or maybe both are women. I wonder if the Devil is dressed in a red outfit with pointy ears, a tail and a pitchfork living in a raging inferno or is Satan some horrendous and blood curdling looking creature like we see on graphic video games.

I would like to think promised land is an outright Utopia, a perfect society, full of love, laughter, fun and friendship...fabulous and fantastic times for all. A society completely rid of crime, death, disease, poverty, sickness, terrorism and war. A lot of religions have that conviction...wouldn't it be wonderful and outstanding if a place like that did prevail

Over the years, Hollywood has produced movies and shown scenes and had partial scripts depicting heaven in their films. One excerpt I remember is from one of my all time favourite flicks (as far as I'm concerned it's a masterpiece) the 1968 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, 'Platoon'. The setting is 1968, somewhere in South Viet Nam. The scene has an American soldier named Rhah (played by Francesco Quinn, Anthony Quinn's son) talking to a small group of fellow G.I.'s in their barracks, after the death of one of their sergeants, "Elias didn't ask you to fight his battles for him. And if there's a heaven, and, God, I hope there is, I know he's sitting up there drunk as a fucking monkey and smoking shit, cause he done left his pains down here." The way I interpret Rhah's dialogue is his belief in the pearly gates is skeptical, but on the flip side he hopes they do exist because he knows he could be killed at any time.

The following is from Wikipedia. Reincarnation is a central tenet of the Hindu religion and Buddist's refer to it as rebirth. Some people believe in reincarnation, though major Christian orders reject the concept of reincarnation, however, a large number of Christians profess the belief.

If people are revived to a new life who is responsible for this phenomenon, is it some sort of mastery and paranormal wonder or are God and the Devil accountable for this happening? Do we maintain the same bodies and mental status we died with or are we totally different and all our memories erased away? Could it be, if we do reappear, we are peasants living in the Middle Ages, or, soldiers and nurses in the American Civil War, or, living in poverty in some war-torn third world country. Perchance, we are transferred to a futuristic society that not even the utmost Hollywood writers, fiction writing authors or people with an extraordinary imagination could ever envision. Could it be, we proceed to the greatest time in our past life, the most favourite, enjoyable and delightful...full of bountiful feelings of ecstasy, elation and rapture...the euphoric state lasts forever. Maybe we are taken to the time and location which we experienced the ultimate depressing, awful, hateful, horrible and worst time in our past lives, and, that lasts forever...that would definitely be Hell.

Perhaps, we don't advance anywhere. Could it be similar to being in the hospital for surgery (let's say minor) and the Doctor administers the anesthetic and seconds later we're in la, la land. Fortunately, we wake up but have precisely no recollection of anything, not even dreaming...absolutely's a deep sleep forever.

I have always had a high level of uncertainty why innocent people, especially children, young men, and women have left the world prematurely. When death 'hits home' it's probably the most devastating circumstance family members can encounter...the smooth jazz song by Brian Bromberg titled 'Tears' comes to mind. My Executive Assistant's niece died at 13 years of age. A very good friend of mine had his mother depart and not too long after his younger sister passed away when he was a teenager. Another very good chum's brother died (I never met him) when my chum was very young and yet another good pal and high school buddy had his father 'taken away' when my pal was also young and before I actually met him. The first time I saw one of my friends 'take the last bow' was in the mid-1970's...he was 20 years old. Let's, also, take notice why people, especially the young ones, commit suicide. Religion may say it's part of life and the deceased have journeyed to a greater place. Regardless, why should family and friends undergo and endure this grief and sorrow? We constantly ask ourselves the question...if there is a God why does he or she allow this to occur?


We all have our own opinions and creeds on what happens when 'our plug is pulled'. If we knew that time was approaching wouldn't it be spectacular if we could backtrack our lives, like Jonathon Fritzens smooth jazz composition titled 'Turn Back Time' or even more remarkable locate and utilize that 'Fountain of Youth'. If there is a heaven, and, I hope there is, because when I go belly up, I also want to be up there, drunk as a fucking monkey.

The End
Harvenut Puritan

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