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Are we hard wired to run a sustainable planet? And are we accountable to the entire world that we live in? For me the Jungle is something made up of so many fascinating elements; a journey of intriguing possibilities. That kind of sounds like "life" on planet-johnson.

Can I travel with a presence that allows my footprint to add value to the world that you live in while "capturing moments" that tell a compelling story? Karma is a belief that all of your actions will have equal reprecussions, affecting you and I. This journey is a search for some balance, a little discovery and hopefully some visual poetry?

This blog will humbly attempt to see my world through the experience of TRAVEL, photos and sincere examination of an experential and visual karma. And I will find a way to incorporate some positive travel experience into that karma with the perspective of a Digital Camera. Photography and writing have become my "love affair" with life on planet-johnson. Hopefully I can share my passions for the best of this crazy world!

Please join in and welcome to the jungle! 

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Tuesday
Aug072007

A Mighty Heart

Soul meets soul on lover's lips"    Percy Bysshe Shelly

 

First a disclaimer to prepare readers for my obvious bias. I`ve got this thing for Angelina Jolie (don`t tell Brad) and I`m pretty much impressed by any acting she does. Guilty! And I`m a sucker for a great "Love Story" which "Mighty Heart" is in spades. Suspense, Intrigue, Angelina and a great Love Story. Now that`s movie chemistry!!

Jolie plays journalist Mariane Pearl, the widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman), who was kidnapped and murdered by jihadists in 2002. Its a shame that we know Daniel Pearle`s fate before the movie starts but the intense pace of this story conceived by Director Michael Winterbottom is amazing. For 5 weeks Marianne Pearle (Jolie) and Karachi Police track Daniel Pearle`s kidnappers and its so well done that I`m actually hoping that they rewrite the story and save this guy`s ass. And they come so close!


The movie really tells two stories. One is of the boundless love and devotion of two people from a world that I could embrace with passion.   "But our differences in background and in culture make us well matched. We know naturally when to hold back and let the other speak. I make Danny laugh to help him forget his worries; I make sure there is silence when he concentrates. And we engage each other in endless philosophical debates -- about truth and courage, about how to fight preconceived ideas, about how to learn from and respect other cultures." A Mighty Heart, pg.5, Marianne

And the second story considers the horrors of terrorism and the frantic desperation of losing your soulmate into the bottomless pit of a "neverland" we can`t imagine. Karachi, Pakistan becomes a manic version a third world "Crank". Like doing good "acid" at rush hour but its like this every day and night. Hordes of people, commerce and survival wrapped up in an urban nightmare. This will definitely not be a fairy tale full of happy endings.

This movie avoids exploitation and sensationalism and doesn`t seem to take sides but its heartfelt "love story" and emotional loss is something that crosses the barriers of hate and politics. Everyone can feel for loss at this level and nobody should be able to accept corruption of innocence like this for politics. Its pretty damn frustrating to imagine that anybody could slaughter my love in the name of God or Allah. A jihad by sword corrupts a jihad of the heart and soul. And everybody seems to lose.

Jolie`s total immersion in this role keeps the movie`s rush of detail on an even keel. We feel her pain on the news of Pearle`s death (its pretty sensational acting) and you`l need your crying towel for the next few minutes. But Marianne Pearle maintains a superhuman grace in grief as she holds Daniel Pearle`s spirit close. Its a truly haunting reverence for a power of the human spirit to overcome loss in the presense of senseless evil.

You need to see this movie to appreciate how Winterbottom and Jolie honor the spirit of Daniel and Marianne Pearle`s love and commitment to each other and a greater good. A Mighty Heart is a fitting eulogy for a love that deserves to live forever!

 

Saturday
Jun022007

28 Weeks Later

    "When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth"   Dawn of the Dead

Is this another Zombie movie? Am I desperate for theatre time? Don`t be fooled. This is a movie about the nature of fear, cowardice, sacrifice and revenge. And this is a recipe for a night at the bijou with all sensory synapses on rapid fire.

The movie starts fast and horrible. Desperate people in a sombre moment and suddenly a knock on the door? It`s just a boy and he cries for help. He needs to be saved and the woman of the house can`t deny her maternal instincts regardless of her fears. This is the beginning of the most psychologically violent movie opening in my recent memory. What happens next (in an arguably great movie moment) has me jumping in my seat and shaking my head in disbelief at what a "man" might sacrifice to save his sorry ass!

This is another story of the evil that men might do in the face of fear and desperation. Kill or be killed? Can`t there be another option? Maybe not in this fictional land of rage and zombies but then again? Once the crisis strikes this picture decends into a frantic bloodletting of chaos unleashed. The action is (be warned) bloody and furious. Everyone becomes expendable.

The spirit of sacrifice and honor rests with Doyle (actor Jeremy Renner), a soldier who commits a renegade sensibility to the protection of 2 kids under the protection of a lady army Medic. Here is a minor complaint of this movie. I liked these characters a lot. I didn`t see enough of them and I wanted more. (hope a director`s cut gives us more movie time with the great characters?) But Doyle in an existential moment of heightened violence drags the deadly spirit of this movie into the light. I like this guy!

 Their struggle to save the kids transforms the flick into something rising above basic human emotion to sacrifice for a greater good. From the opening contentious abandonment to engaging saviours rising above their horror this became a movie that pushed my buttons into anxious fury and despair. If you love someone or wonder about the true value of a greater good (is anything worth dying for?) then this crazy fracking "zombie" movie might just leave you satisfied. I like this more than I ever expected and if you like the prequel (28 days) this is even better.

And I think we`re going to see a lot more of Jeremy Renner! 

Tuesday
May222007

Blood Diamond

    "Be able, at any moment, to sacrifice what we are for what we can become." Charles Dubois

 

This is a movie about transformation and sacrifice wrapped in a kick ass epic African action-adventure. Its a fascinating study in the futility of life in the worst of a war weary continent typified by Sierra Leone.  Lionardo Dicaprio gives an infectious and Oscar worthy performance as Danny Archer. Archer is a street savy white African survivor who trades "conflict diamonds" from Africa for the "rich and careless" elites of Western society.

Dicaprio`s performance is physical (very) and sensitive (subtly). At his core is a tormented, African violence affected boy whose tough as Tarentino, street fighting persona is oblivious to any needs but his own. But cracks in his armour appear as Jennifer Connelly enters his space. The bullshit walks and the chemistry talks. (Can you blame him its Jennfer Connelly!)

Connelly is a probing journalist, with the heart of a tree hugger, and Dicaprio reveals his painful core through their simmering attraction. The attraction bobs and weaves and their spiritual bond will be eternal if not physical. (Love that lasts without the classic embrace can be better than a bare ass in the movies).

The  Epic setting, excellent action, and terrifying conflict are heart rending as we watch the destruction of African children wrenched from their families and turned into savage killing machines. And these are truly children. (some younger than 10 years). Its horrible and apparently all too true. And what is the motivation of these horrors? The age old story of greed.

"A greedy father has thieves for children." A Serbian Proverb

The greedy themes in this movie rival the worst in our true life, nasty global economy. "Greed is not good" for the children of Africa.

I need to give honorable mention to Djimon Hounson, who plays a desperate African father fighting with every once of what he is to save his family from the abominations of this movie. You feel his pain and anyone who knows parenthood will be affected imagining his family`s struggle. His problems are life and death and we won`t ever likely know defeat and hope at the level that this character endures.

Now don`t get me wrong, at a "suspend disbelief" gut movie level, this can be a great action-adventure night at the bijou that brings pure movie going thrills. But its importance comes to me through the pain, suffering and drama from some truths of modern Africa`s anguish. Go see this movie for thrills and or ideas. It works at every level.

Dicaprio should get nominated twice this year for best actor. The Departed and Blood Diamond. This kid is becoming "the actor" of his generation..

 

 

Wednesday
Apr252007

Fracture

    "The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes "Awww!”   Jack Kerouac  

Come to see "Fracture" and watch 2 actors from very different generations heat up the screen. This can be the very best part of a movie experience. When actors can grab us by melon and excite our synapses like a high voltage artist then the screen really grows larger than life. Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling are at the top of their game and the chemistry is perfect for a very smartly written script. Two actors like this are icing on the cake for a riveting ride in the murder mystery genre.

Hopkins plays a diabolical and truly heartless Ted Crawford. This is a man who murders his wife for fun. Sure she was a faithless adulteress but Crawford takes special pleasure in his revenge which exposes his black hole of devils that most of us call a heart. And for Hopkin`s (Crawford) the fun has just begun. He`ll turn this tragedy into a deadly game of chess that takes more lives and forces Ryan Gosling`s Willy Beachum to understand his own limitations in the face of this Prince of Darkness.

Gosling is the true heart of this movie. An actor who can do more with a look (especially the eyes) than anyone since young Montgomery Clift.  Willy Beachum is loose and cocky. He`s on top of his game till Hopkins chooses him to become a pawn in his masterpiece. Hopkin`s character is too impressed with himself to consider Beachum as a serious threat and he will twist the knife of arrogance into every mistake Gosling`s character stumbles into. For Gosling the devil is in the details that he keeps missing. And Hopkins is the devil.

The heart of a karma movie can be in transformation and Gosling does his metamorphosis from the aspiring shark to a man who discovers his soul. A true larger than life concept; a lawyer with heart and principles. Yeah, what a stretch? But a grand idea. And the grand irony of this movie is the classic hand of evil bringing out the best that a protagonist hasn`t understood within himself. Hopkins` revels in the dark arts and unwittingly calls Gosling`s character to the light. Gosling transforms from a charming ahole to something we all hope we could become.

This is a very good "cat and mouse" murder mystery with high octane acting and an affusion of transformation that makes it well worth seeing.  Great script. Great acting. It`s movie time!

 

 

 

Sunday
Mar252007

Sharkwater

    "Be the change you want to see in the world"   Gandhi

Ok picture this! A man free diving among schools of sharks as if he is one of them. He feeds them, he plays with them, he appreciates them and he is willing to risk his freedom for them. Shite! Are these the same animals that Benchley and Spielberg vilified in "Jaws" 30 years ago? Are these the same monsters that have stirred panic in the average TV watching man and woman ever since?

Watch "Sharkwater" just once and walk away wondering about the world we live in. I`m not kidding. This is fodder for reflection on the nature of the beast. And the beast is us, not the shark.

This documentary-movie, produced and directed by Rob Stewart, delivers karma on the high seas. It is a story of a man`s quest to help us understand the truth behind the media bound horrible myths of "the shark". And it brings truth and thrills in a really terrific piece of entertainment. This picture makes me want to swim with the sharks and change the world I live in!

Stewart and the charismatic renegade conservationist, Paul Watson of "The Sea Shepard Society",  lead a mission of mercy and justice into the shark rich waters of Guatemala, Costa Rica and Galapagos. They will battle to prevent the shark`s extinction.

Stewart is a myth buster who drags the viewer through our ignorance into the depth of his truth. He shows us that the shark`s real life timidity and function. They are scared to death of mankind`s sorry ass and Stewart teaches us that the shark is an essential part of the ocean`s ecology. Extinction of this 400 million year old creature may upset the balance of nature forever. If that doesn`t seem very important then watch the movie and I promise you`ll wonder why?

This film is seriously thrilling and gorgeous in high definition video. It is packed with pirate boat rammings, gunboat chases, mafia espionage, corrupt governments and attempted murder charges that cause Stewart`s "league of justice" to run for their freedom. Paul Watson has the stuff of heroes and this docu-movie uses his presence like Spielberg used "Robert Shaw" in Jaws. But this is the real deal. Stewart is the heart and Watson the guts of a film trying to lift us out of an ignorance that is just another example of how important it is to search for the truth behind our myths.

We need to pay attention to people like Stewart who, with a little help from friends like Watson, shows us what we don`t know about the world we live in. And what we need to do to overcome our fears. This movie is about us. Dive in and see for yourself!