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Saturday, 17 August 2019

Mini Retro Review: Barb Wire (1996) #badmovies

Barb Wire
Sci-Fi Action

Barb Wire's claim to fame, besides a starring role for Baywatch and Playboy's Pamela Anderson, is it is noted for being one of the worst comic book-based movies of all-time. Some poor acting, it sort of rips off and riffs on Mad Max with that post-apocalyptic theme whilst it also mixes in Casablanca, there is a fat guy in a black leather bondage outfit and there is too little good action and the rest is a total bore. There is just nothing here that I haven't seen before that blows me away. There are some bad-sounding accents, the action isn't that grand, to be honest, and some overacting that is cringeworthy. The film's box office bomb resulted in the original Barb Wire comic books to be discontinued. Catwoman may be lauded by many as the most notoriously worst female comic book flick - yet this movie outdoes it. But even worse, it is unbelievable bland. Yet, it could have been titled, Boob Wire - & that would have sounded crap. 

Is it worth watching?:

Not really


Wednesday, 14 August 2019

8 Benefits of Learning & Speaking New Languages

By Waiching 

As the world becomes increasingly multicultural and globalised, bilingualism and multilingualism have become even more prevalent and significant than it has ever been, before. Studying and learning languages is knowing and learning how, as a non-native of that country, to be able to communicate and connect with others, just by verbally interacting with him/her.

After travelling to Spain and Portugal recently this year, this has encouraged me to take up and embrace Spanish, and with that, I am trying to speak it and blend it into my conversations with my Spanish speaking coworkers. It does help that I have people of whom speak fluent Spanish themselves that I can practice my skills with (as well as to impress them with my Spanish attempts as I try to sound Spanish as I speak - ha!). I was thinking of enrolling onto a Spanish course, but I decided I would be better off had I saved my money and to learn just by watching YouTube videos and reading articles on basic Spanish phrases. That and using Google translate.

I studied French at high school, and whilst I didn't make the grade, I still enjoy it and when I do find the time, I refresh upon my French-speaking skills; my Chinese Cantonese is okay, but again, I intend to improve on this. But in the meantime, it is Spanish that has become the main focus in terms of being a second language. I have grown to love the Spanish language, and more so after my trip to Madrid: the words, the pronunciation, articulation of words: like French it's very emotive, romanticised that includes French, Italian, Catalan, it can also be expressive, fluid and free-flowing that can roll off the tongue (in Spanish, the letters 'U' and 'H' are pronounced silently). & it's fun.

It's just so much nicer to be able to speak with someone who is from another country and in their native tongue. Speaking English to him/her in English and of whom is a non-English speaker is good, and I like it because it is a) easier for me and b) I understand the context of what they are saying.... and whilst speaking to him/her in Spanish is a little more challenging for myself, and I am a novice in Spanish, it's something I like to learn just by putting it to use and to feel as if I have and share at least something in common with them.

As we live in a multicultural world and society (due partly to immigration and people from non-English countries flocking to the U.S, UK, Canada to settle down and to work and non-speakers of Mandarin learning the dialect, so they are well prepared when visiting China) and with over 100 languages at our disposal that we can pick and choose from that people speak and engage in, learning and speaking various languages has over say, the last 10, 15 years, has become even more significant than it ever was before.

& here are 8 reasons why:

  • It makes you stand out from the crowd and thus, it becomes something of an asset in itself 

  • Employers seek professionals who can communicate with customers in their native language -this can open up a wide range of job opportunities, especially in increasingly developed countries such as China, India and Japan whereby the tech market and international trade relations with the West are fundamental. Though there may not be many jobs where being bi or multilingual and foreign language skills are a necessary requirement, there is, however, a good chance you'll be working with people whose first language isn't English. 

  • It deepens our connection with other cultures, as well as make new social and cross-cultural connections - throughout our lives, especially at work, we encounter, work with and meet people of different cultures, nationalities and in doing so, through being able to communicate with them in their native tongue or second language, it becomes a sense of achievement and one wherein it feels you or I share something in common with them, which is speaking and understanding that particular lingo. You also gain valuable insight into the way they think and an understanding of why they sound the way they do when they speak to you. That, and it becomes an instant trait as you meet and converse with native speakers. 

  • It boosts our self-confidence - it's one thing using it once, but if you don't use it over and over, not only does it go to waste, it can lead to a lack of self-confidence and not knowing to how to respond to things, people, situations. And it helps to ask people to translate or to tell them what it means in English

  • Being bi-lingual can make you a better multitasker - the cognitive benefits of being bi or multilingual are massive: bigger brains, better at memorising, they are more creative and expressive and make for better problem solvers. This is because of his/hers ability to easily switch between activities, to be able to multitask and to undertake a range of jobs and chores with minimal or no supervision. Particularly if it involves communicating with the other person in their language 

  • Knowing other languages may encourage cultural appreciation - if you know Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Chinese Mandarin, Japanese well and know how to speak them, then it makes you appreciate their cultures more, or just by developing an interest in them at first and by gradually learn the words, phrases, you'll get a grasp of the language.  

  • It expands upon and brodens your travel opportunities and encourages you to take further interest in that culture by visiting and going to places where that language is Spoken: Spanish, or as it is known as Espanol, is spoken in over 20 countries, French, as it is also known as Francais, is spoken widely in France, Canada, Algeria, Switzerland, Morocco, Cameroon, Belgium. If you are interested in Spanish, Italian, French or any other culture, it helps to visit its cities and places and to speak the lingo. If you can speak Spanish, then not only can you go to Spain, you can head off to Argentina, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Peru, Paraguay

  • Learning and speaking a language is an achievement in itself - and the more you persist with it, the easier it becomes. Repetition is key: if you are not as proficient or a native speaker, just by picking up some choice phrases and vocab words and saying it over and over in your everyday life through work, school or wherever to someone, makes it easier for one to remember. 

When you master a foreign language and once you get the hang of it, one is able to understand what the other person is saying, memorise the proper vocab, grammar, keywords, then be able to put them into a proper context and to reply and respond back. It's not of much use of them speaking Spanish, French to me, but I respond with ''Si/oui''. For me to develop that conversation further on, I have to and need to make sense of what they are saying in their language by understanding the English translation or meaning first, then reply in their language, afterwards. There is so much you can learn from online, through books and audio - but nothing beats interacting with people in person, firsthand and to know what they are talking about that s/he can truly understand, as well as appreciate that culture. 

Also, when I speak French or Spanish, I try to do so as authentically as possible as the native would sound and to make a conscientious effort in doing so. 

Contrary to some, I believe one is never too late to learn and speak a foreign language and the best way to learn it is to simply immerse yourself in it, grasp it straightaway and continue practising and speaking it by incorporating the phrases into everyday conversations and by doing so, one can notice its effects. At first, you'll make mistakes (who doesn't?) and nobody's perfect, but as the saying goes, 'practice makes perfect'.... and the same applies with languages. 

Before I went to Spain, all I knew was 'si, gracias, adios': as I type this, I know a little bit on how to greet someone in the morning, afternoon (hola!, buenas dias/Buenas tardes (their name) como estas?/como ta va?) and it is going to take time... but with persistence and determination, with some people at work who speak Spanish, I can easily turn to them for me to hone and practise my speaking skills. My work schedule can be busy at times, and yet I still find the time to commit to Spanish, by my attempts at conversing with some people who do speak it at work by weaving and integrating it into my conversations, which makes my life a little easier. You can impress others by making small talk with him/her or exchange little quirks or repartees and make it fun as well.

Whilst I am not fluent, the result still feels like one, that is and can be an adaptable communication skill that can and perhaps will, bring me closer to my Spanish speaking peers -, or be it, amigos & compadres.

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Retro Review: The Mosquito Coast (1986)

The Mosquito Coast
Cast: Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix, Conrad Roberts, Andre Gregory, Jason Alexander
Genre: Drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $14 million 

Plot: An inventor spurns his city life to move his family into the jungles of Central America to make a utopia

'This Mosquito Doesn't Bite, But Nor Does It, Sting'

Allie Fox is an inventor who specialises in innovative fridge devices, and he is convinced that the United States is heading for catastrophe; with that idea looming, Fox packs his bags and convinces his family, his wife ''Mother'', teenage son, Charlie and three other children to quit America for a new life in South America. As they head off to Belize, Allie has plans to build a new society from scratch and with that, he acts and behaves strangely and his descent to madness threatens to hurt the ones he loves, as he goes on to confront the Reverend. 

A huge departure for Harrison Ford: an actor synonymous with Star Wars as Han Solo and Indiana Jones, but for the exception of The Fugitive, he has arguably, never really been as progressive as an actor given his choice of roles and films he aligns himself with, as one would come to expect, from a performer as well-known as himself. 1986's The Mosquito Coast was one of his rarest and fewest glimpses and attempts at not so much shelving the 'hero' role, but in demonstrating that Ford was indeed capable of showing potential as a dramatic actor. 

Which Ford does well in, as he acquits himself in such a complex role, and one where the audience doesn't have much sympathy towards Allie; sadly, the same isn't said for the actual movie, wherein its almost 2-hr run-time is bogged down by what is a grating and drawn-out narrative and an almost total lack of drama and genuine hostility being generated, although the tension between Allie Fox, his wife, played by Helen Mirren, and son by the late River Phoenix, though whilst this wasn't lacking, this should have been far more potent and consistent throughout. 

The pacing of this film utterly drags it down, although given it takes a long while for the characters to recognise that Allie's ego has become way too big, this in itself prolongs the story's agony further, but without much that is revered. Harrison Ford's Allie Fox is a terrible person who lacks any empathy, whatsoever, especially for a so-called protagonist, who is really an anti-hero, and he is a total douche for the entirety of the flick, ranting and raving his way, which will irritate a lot of people who will watch this. & what's with Helen Mirren's character being called 'Mother'? Like, why give that character that name? Then again, there is no character progression or development, whatsoever as Allie, Mother and Charlie barely evolve and with that, towards the end, it feels as if they are the same people as they were and are, right before the problems began. 

And despite Peter Weir's efforts and Ford's performance, which is probably the best I have seen of his by far, as he goes down a darker route - thus displaying a range of acting that is unheard of from him -, the film itself, through Weir, just doesn't have enough tools to pull it off, as he works within such a confined and hectic jungle environment - and still, he doesn't go far and beyond to truly impress. This felt like a film that is okay at best, though it just practically sits there, without making too much noise and hot air; it most certainly should have been way, way better.  

Final Verdict: 

The Mosquito Coast is a film that would have won plaudits by many, not just critics, but, and ultimately, the execution is just way off.  In the capable hands of a much more accomplished and established director, other than Peter Weir, whose vision is anything but alluring and even bolder, quite frankly, the end result would have been even more sophisticated and thus, boosted with plenty of energy.

Yet despite Harrison Ford, try as he may, even with him as the star man alone, it was just not enough to ignite the spark that The Mosquito Coast truly needed as a film and one that would be talked about for decades.  


Monday, 5 August 2019

Retro Review: Blackjack (1998)

Cast: Dolph Lundgren, Kate Vernon, Phillip Mackenzie, Kam Heskin, Fred Williamson 
Genre: Action TV Movie

Plot: A federal agent must confront a phobia in order to save a supermodel from a skilled assassin 

'Not Quite ''Jack For Good'', But Still A Solid John Woo Outing'

Blackjack was originally conceived as a joint Canadian/U.S TV pilot for the Hong Kong director, John Woo, who is most notable for Face/Off in particular amongst several other films and is an action film that seems to get a lot of hate from people. But for the ridiculous-sounding plot of the main character having a phobia of the colour, white, that sounds far-fetched, it plays on this silly premise by being a highly entertaining romp, without being too overly ludicrous to the point it threw me off, completely. 

Danish actor, Dolph Lundgren plays an ex-US Marshall and now current security guard, Jack, who is blinded whilst trying to protect a drug-addicted supermodel from her crazy ex-hubby, with the aid of his niece, for whom he is left to attend to, in Casey. 

Blackjack feels closer to The Killer and less like Woo's other subsequent offerings in Hard Target, Hard Boiled, Face/Off. More in the vein of an action version of The Bodyguard starring Whitney Houston and Kevin Costner, Woo's trademark slick gun-fu-like style and slo-mo shots are written all over this movie, and these are not overdone, either. Although being a TV film, much of the action is neutered down and yet, it still didn't affect my enjoyment of Blackjack much.  

Like say, well Showgirls, it is entertainingly bad, and watchable that I found some charm in some of the scenes. Compared to John Woo's other offerings, this is very lightweight and a lot softer as he apes his own style, much to the film's budget, but also it's rather decent and fun to sit through that doesn't take itself too seriously. As far as low budget action films go, on its own merit, there was plenty to enjoy from Blackjack, with the action looking decent on occasions such as the motorcycle chase scenes, and Dolph Lundgren looking less stoic and showing a tad more, if not as much, range in his acting. His performance is actually one of his best that I have seen (and he does better than usual), and usually, he, like most action stars, is not that well known for giving strong performances. & to see him fly about, as well as kick-ass by letting rip his martial arts skills, was still cool to watch, especially the 'got milk' fight scene in a dairy factory, of all places. Phillip Mackenzie, as the villain, hams it up: he's eccentric, a bit nutty but also playing on the British baddie tropes. I could have done with seeing a bit more of Fred Williamson, whose character should have had a much bigger part in the movie.

Blackjack could have done with two more quality action sequences and a little more depth in the plot with the White phobia angle that should have been delved into a bit more, but still, for a TV movie, despite the superficial low quality-ish sheen it gives off, this was still watchable and entertaining. If it hadn't been for John Woo's added touch, it would have been a lot worse. 

Final Verdict:

Blackjack is a B-movie with attitude, as well as having a bit more style, which elevates it above many other B-movie and direct- to- DVD and NetFlix actioners. I went into it not expecting much out of it and in the end, I liked and enjoyed it. 

Whilst John Woo has delivered better elsewhere, this is far from being terrible as it has been lauded by many; but rather this isn't bad at all and thus, it remains a fun, solid little no-brainer to watch. 


Thursday, 1 August 2019

Retro Review: Daylight (1996)

Cast: Sylvester Stallone, Amy Brenneman, Viggo Mortensen, Dan Hedaya, Jay O' Sanders, Karen Young
Genre: Disaster Action 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $159 million 

Plot: A truck containing dangerous chemicals explodes in the Holland Tunnel, trapping those New Yorkers not killed in the explosion. It's up to an ex-city Emergency Medical Services director to save the survivors 

'Stallone-Led Flick Not Quite Exactly Right, But There Should Have Been More To It'

Daylight flopped back during its release in 1996 and by watching it today, though this is not the sheer disaster of a movie as it was panned by critics at the time, and released during a wave of similarly formulaic films of this type in Volcano, Deep Impact, Twister, Independence Day, it is still, in most respects, a relative disappointment and there are clearly issues with it that should have been ironed out. 

A New York tunnel collapses and with that, several residents are trapped inside. A disgraced Emergency Services Chief named Kit is chosen to come to their aid. Stuff blows up, water is gushing out, everything falls apart - which is all exciting, sort of; it's a bit of a shame that by taking away the action sequences and effects, there is not much else left to it that is entertaining, and running at almost 2 hrs, the story is so bloated and hardly fleshed out very well. 

Let's face it, if it wasn't for Sylvester Stallone, who tries to provide some quality and keep us invested in the film, Daylight would not see the light of day, - pardon the expression. There are some suspense and tension, some explosions and things blowing up, but the story doesn't supplement these elements well enough. There just wasn't more here that was surprising that came left-field that I duly wanted out of it. 

Vanessa Bell Calloway's fake Carribean/French accent was terrible, the supporting cast is not notable with some of their characters resorting to shouting their lines to emphasise their roles in the movie, Viggo Mortensen bites the dust earlier on, meaning Daylight doesn't have an actual villain for Stallone and co to contend with, as does Slyvester Stallone's real-life son, Sage in an all-too-brief cameo. But for Kit, the lead paper-thin characters do not lend themselves well to the cause, as it seems he is the only character afforded with some depth, and neither of them are empathetic or likeable enough, and thus lack any personality for us to root for them. Amy Brenneman's Madeline makes Cliffhanger's Janine Turner's Jessie look 10 times better; the onscreen partnership of Brenneman and Stallone feels hokier and lacks any real reverence their characters might have towards one another. It basically retreads the same tropes as Cliffhanger, the other Sly Stallone movie - only this is nowhere as great and, in addition, it is far less entertaining as well. 

Rob Cohen was attempting to make a disaster action flick that tries to be serious, whilst emphasising that people can triumph against the odds. He takes what is an engaging and exciting idea - only to turn it into a mundane and at times jarring affair that is also too limited in scope. As each of the squabbling characters meets their own grisly fate, it's done in a way that one doesn't have any emotional investment towards either of them and the plot never becomes involving enough. With that in mind, I didn't care and it feels mechanical. The effects themselves are explosive and the action set pieces range from passable to good, yet they are anything but sizzling. 

Much like Judge Dredd was inferior to Demolition Man, Daylight is inferior to Renny Harlin's Cliffhanger: the set-ups of these films, when paired opposite one another, are remarkably similar in many respects -, & though ultimately Daylight does do some things that Cliffhanger did too, by contrast, this is not as effective and resounding, and it isn't long until it ensuingly runs out of ideas. 

Final Verdict:

That's not to say this isn't entirely unwatchable, but it steers too much on the formulaic and melodramatic side that I became tired of the story and my eyes wandered away from the screen several times, whilst the underdeveloped secondary characters are literally upstaged and eclipsed by star man, Stallone and of whom they are written in a way that nobody will care what happens to them. 

It has its shortcomings for sure and it's not bad; nevertheless, Daylight is yet again another one of those action-based thrillers that, with a bit more work in most areas, the end product would have been a whole lot more engaging, exceptional and serviceable.


Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Retro Review: The 6th Day (2000) #Schwarzenegger

The 6th Day
Cast: Arnold Schwarzenneger, Michael Rappaport, Tony Goldwyn, Michael Rooker, Sarah Wynter, Robert Duvall
Genre: Science Fiction Action
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $96 million

Plot: A man meets a clone of himself and stumbles into a grand conspiracy about clones taking over the world

'Another Post-Early 1990s Arnie Effort Bites The Dust'

The 6th Day was released 10 years after the release of Arnold Schwarzenneger's Total Recall; however, circulated at a period when his Hollywood blockbuster status made less sense as it continued to drift further away after 1994's True Lies (IMO, his last best movie), the film is directed by Roger Spottiswoode, of whom but for the 007-based Tomorrow Never Dies (seen by many as one of the weakest and forgettable Bond movies, ever), and Turner & Hooch - which I enjoyed -, has always been a lacklustre filmmaker, whose approach lacks cutting edge and boldness, as exemplified in the 1986 sports comedy, The Best of Times starring pre-Hollywood stars, Robin Williams and Kurt Russell. 

Adam Gibson (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a family man who arrives home one day to see that a clone has replaced him. In a future where human cloning is universally and socially accepted and plunged further into a world that he thought was prosperous and happy, Gibson discovers he has been cloned and that he has to evade the bad guys who are after him and get to the bottom of whom and what is behind the horrible things happening to him and his family.

The 6th Day continued the trend of progressively worst, or be it least appealing and demanding Schwarzenegger movies ever produced from the mid-1990s onwards. Many may cite comedies, Kindergarten Cop or even the much-maligned comedy, Junior as the film/s whereby Arnie jumped the shark and whose career never recovered after that. I beg to differ on this, - although right after the release of the James Cameron 1994 actioner, the less conventional his movies were, the less impressive they became: from Collateral Damage, Millenial flop End of Days to the unsavoury post-2010 actioner, Sabotage, but for Escape Plan, the quality with each release dwindled.

This one has the feel of a B-movie and much like with many of Arnie's films, post-mid-1990s, The 6th Day is less of a Schwarzenneger movie, but a bog-standard sci-fi thriller and a G-rated Total Recall, - yet the comparisons with the R and 18-rated Paul Verhoeven effort come to an end. Minus the fun, spontaneity, wit and entertainment value it possesses The 6th Day doesn't have much in the way of charm and verve to make it a memorable classic. This is very similar to Virtuosity and as much as he tries, Arnie feels kind of out of place here.

This is bargain bin Arnie, of whom for die-hard fans wouldn't mind, but this doesn't feel like something he'd appear in. His performance is stilted and nothing about Adam rings appealing or like someone we ought to take an interest in. This character Adam was Arnie's attempt to pull off the actor thing like he did in Total Recall as Doug Quaid; but The 6th Day is nowhere near the level of that movie, as the writing is lacklustre, the plot doesn't try to test the main character, the supporting characters are forgettable and arguably, it is more boring. It is devoid of characterisation throughout; Roger Spottiswoode fumbles in the execution as he fails to get to the heart of and delve into the protagonists and antagonists' actions. Robert Duvall tries in a bit-part role, but the rest of the supporting players do not seem to make an effort with their performances; Terry Crews is in it briefly until he is killed off, Tony Goldwyn as Drucker doesn't look like he can be a bad guy, even though he plays as one here and thus, is gravely miscast.

There are special effects, explosions, the action is decent at best but quantity-wise, there just wasn't enough of it in abundance, the plot is handled in a complicatedly absurd fashion for anyone to wrap their heads around, & despite some of the technological advances through the cars and the usage of computers, The 6th Day isn't imaginative as it tries to come across, and is thus, very unremarkable. Ultimately, the action picks up from the final third, but even that was scant consolation.

Though it is not amongst his sheer worst, this was far from a return to form for Schwarzenneger, a 2000s Total Recall but minus all the great things that made it a classic; as Arnie movies go, The 6th Day was a rough, occasionally conflicting, muddled and unsatisfying watch that tries to be cleverer for its own good, in place of characterisation and memorable scenes -, and yet this was also a film where it didn't quite live up to what it could have and should have promised.

Final Verdict:

This is so easily throw away and has little to redeem itself as his big hitters such as Terminator 2, True Lies, Total Recall, Predator still remains as Schwarzenneger's movie elite, whilst this one is barely regarded and perceived as one. The 6th Day isn't just a generic B/Z-movie action wannabe flick, it is also one of his least memorable ones too, as, under Roger Spottiswoode's vision, its ideas and potential have practically gone to waste.

As a fan of the early 1980s to early 1990s Arnold Schwarzenneger, it remains an essentially uneventful, middling and empty-headed affair and is, therefore, not that good that it just isn't worth revisiting.


Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Is Going To College Or University A Waste Of Money (As Well As Time)?

Let's see...

 - Going to college and university may mean gaining new skills and knowledge in your particular area and meeting new people on your course, but it doesn't teach you or grant you the life skills, soft skills nor does it teach you how to think for yourself. By soft skills, we mean communication, character and personality traits, emotional traits and these include (and are not limited to) adaptability, creativity, confidence building, conflict resolution, work ethic, integrity. These skills are fundamental and valuable as you step into the workplace and alongside working with your work colleagues and, but for say, the former, character traits and character building, building confidence, motivation and working to your potential, these are all things that tutors and lecturers never truly pass onto us. They shape and prepare us for what lies ahead at work, and it is something I could have really benefited from having. 

- Nobody is guaranteed a job straight away after graduation - far from it

- At least half of the stuff you learn you can obtain or learn for free on Youtube, Apple and Google Play app stores or through self-taught, personal and life experiences that cost you nothing; learning a new language? Use Google translate, go on holiday and/ or converse with people in general in their native/secondary language and pick up a few choice words and phrases or watch Youtube vids. Interested in art or dance? Just practice and practice without enrolling onto a course

- Going to college and university, just because it is something that 'has to be done' and if you don't go, you are a failure or you're branded as one - this is something that I see in relation to the vast numbers of Asians and Asian Americans and people of Asian descent studying and working hard, not just to get a well-paid job, but it is a necessity on their parents behalf. We are told by our parents and teachers we won't amount to anything, nor do well when we don't meet their 'standards'. In other words, this is more about pleasing them and making them feel good than you and making you feel like you owe them something. 

- It's not a waste of money if you are studying law, business, IT - anything else, such as liberal, expressive/creative and performing arts (art/design, dance, acting, music), these sectors would involve a lot of personal networking and finding people who work in those industries who could help you land a job in those areas. Having practical skills alone is just not enough. If you don't have that, then it becomes increasingly difficult to secure work. The lack of support and resources I had meant I gave up on a pursuing a job in the media.

- But for law, business, IT, teaching, medicine, the overwhelming majority of professions and sectors do NOT require degrees in their fields 

- I figured or I'd thought at in my 20s that by having a piece of paper with my name on it, would lead to something bigger for me, career-wise, but eventually, that never materialised.

- Leaving university with a huge amount of student debt to be paid off - thousands of pounds or dollars worth of debt and loans that you need to pay back if you are earning over £10k/$10k in your job is hardly the stuff of dreams, really. Yes, your earning potential increases with a degree, but that's only if you end up with a highly paid profession.

*Bottom line: I majored in BA Hons Media arts and journalism with a 2.2 almost over 10 years ago, following on from my Access to Higher Education Media Studies college course (where I secured a level 3 qualification), but I couldn't and wasn't able to find work, so after a couple of months later and lacking on-the-job training and work experience in the media, I eventually turned to retail. Currently, I work at Costco and I feel as though that besides the money, the positive, as well as negative experiences I have obtained in the real-world has given me a sense of perspective as a person and knowing what I can achieve, as well as to what I still need to work on by being in work....something that college and university, well, the last few years of college and uni never provided me. I am in a job that has nothing to do in relation to my degree, and quite frankly, as I get older, it doesn't bother me that I don't have a media-related job. Come to think of it, as I reflect on this, I don't spend time thinking about college or doing a course, anymore. Why? because it is not a requirement or something that I feel that I have to or must do in order to fulfil me as a person. 

Do I regret going to college and university when I could have and should have found myself in employment earlier on and earned more money, instead? In fact, I sometimes do. People have said to me, 'but you still got your degree' - well, it doesn't matter, as this didn't help me land me a job in the media. 

I spent literally half of my existing life studying by going to school, college, university, full-time & part-time by doing courses which I'd thought were going to lead me onto a career in the arts and the media industries, whilst it wasn't always easy securing regular jobs just to pay the bills and support my family. I did a few numeracy courses and my maths skills aren't that great, the fields associated with Asians such as law and business, I.T, for me, were areas that I wasn't so particularly good at or of which I had no interest in pursuing. I wasn't the stereotypical geeky, bookworm straight A-study hard Asian student - far from it. 

Because of this route that I took, it cost me a great deal with virtually almost no pay-off. 

Higher education is linked to higher earning potential; if that is so often the case, then why are there people with communications and media studies degrees slumming it out at Starbucks, flipping burgers at Mcd's or working in a retail chain and especially for minimum wage and still saddled with thousands of pounds/dollars worth of debt they have to write off? 

The labour market doesn't pay and hire people and applicants for the subjects and degrees that we studied - it pays and hires people for jobs, so long as you meet their requirements of the job spec; that they have put their faith in you that you can do the job well enough and that you have some preexisting and relatable soft skills that you can apply them at work. With retail work, in particular, they don't really care whether or not if you have a degree.

I'm not telling you not to go to college and university and not to get yourself an education, but, and speaking from personal experience, I am also saying that education isn't just strictly limited to the classrooms -, and they don't need to cost you a dime, either. Education doesn't end, right after college and university. 

Don't do something by following the crowd, because that is what society tells you. Think long and hard about it and weigh up the pros and cons. If you go to college, apply for and undertake a vocational course or trade school that involves and provides you with the hands-on training and practical skills that employers look for in potential employees. As opposed to 4 years worth of what is predominately theory and tons of textbooks that you'll probably never read and use again after you finish.

Just keep your options open until you find one that works. But at the end of the day, it's about getting a job and making and earning money. & most of the time and depending on some courses, college and university just isn't the gateway to that. 

& that's life (un)fortunately. 

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Retro Review: Lean on Me (1989)

Lean on Me
Cast: Morgan Freeman, Beverly Todd, Robert Guillaume, Ethan Phillips, Michael Imperioli, Tony Todd, Lynne Thigpen
Genre: Biographical drama
U.S Box Office Gross: over $31 million

Plot: The dedicated but tyrannical Joe Clark is appointed the principal of a decaying inner-city school and he is determined to improve by any and all means

'Lean On The Meanie Teacher, More Like'

Morgan Freeman plays Joe Clark, the newly elected principal of East Side High who joined the school to help address the school's rampant drug's problem, as well as being brought on board to turn things around and to put things right. 

Though the very loosely based on a true story is inspirational, this inspiration the film was alluding to in general, just didn't transpire throughout. 

Lacking in subtlety and deftness, Lean on Me is less so To Sir With Love and more along the lines of Dangerous Minds, but without much in the way of charm and being memorable, and unlike the Jerry Bruckheimer produced latter offering, the movie doesn't have much in the way of heart and enthusiasm, either. Morgan Freeman's performance as principal Joe Clark is powerful - yet his character is mostly unsympathetic, rigid and comes across as bitter and cantankerous. As a result of this, this was the key to preventing the movie from degenerating into a saccharine and overly sentimental cheese-fest. It is compelling to see Freeman impose himself here, but there were times in which it was discomforting to see Clark yelling, berating and belittling and mocking his pupils and fellow teachers at a school he is trying to reform.

Whilst it is far from being thought-provoking, the film's sore point is when it emphasises and hammers home Joe's regimented and combative nature at the expense of additional screentime and the supporting characters' own character development, its message about learning and teachers making a difference to students' lives. Lean on Me could have benefited greatly by having more scenes of learning and teachers educating their pupils. But what we have is an all-too-familiar and trite screenplay, which is saved by Freeman's turn and the ending can be a little hokey for its own good. 

The storyline with the pregnant teenager is left unresolved and with that, viewers will be scratching their heads and wondering where she and the child's fate lies in the story. 

The performances throughout were very good to excellent, but in viewing this as an adult, it appears that Lean On Me tried to be a different type of educational-based drama film to many others that came before and after it; that the message it was implying was that students and pupils won't learn a single thing, unless you threaten them or approach things in an aggressive and strict fashion. In reality, if a teacher like Mr Clark had acted the way he or she did in real life, they'd be out of a job. 

Final Verdict: 

Director John G. Avildsen may have reigned with The Karate Kid and the original Rocky, but here in his third attempt at the underdog persevering against the odds tale, Lean on Me pretty much follows the same narrative beats as those movies; however and sadly, without much heart, its potential just isn't fully realised and with that, Lean on Me should have been a tad more inspiring. 
It's still worth seeing, nonetheless, especially for first-time watchers. 

Good thing this was under 2 hrs.


Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Mini Retro Review: All About The Benjamins (2002) #badmovies

All About The Benjamins
Genre: Action Comedy

A black version of Midnight Run, All About The Benjamins fails as an action movie and a comedy, as most of the humour falls flat and the action is minuscule. Ice Cube and Mike Epps were far more effective in the comedy, Next Friday. This is mostly loud, brash and not very entertaining with a plot that doesn't attempt to go anywhere. The villains have no personalities. And there isn't a scene where one character isn't shouting. The number of times the F-word is blurted out is constant and most of the time, it is unfunny. Though All About The Benjamins is made for and is targeted at Black audiences by black filmmakers, as a movie itself, it just wasn't enjoyable enough.

Is It Worth Watching?

If you are into Black movies and comedies, and you are a huge fan of Ice Cube then yes


Monday, 8 July 2019

'I'm Here To Work To Earn Money - Not Friends'

By Waiching

Workplace friendships are complicated - unless you are part of a 'clique' or you and another colleague share the same or similar culture as each other, making friendships is not as simple and straightforward as it seems. In secondary school, I had a few friends, male and female, but once high school came along, that was when it became an uphill task to undertake. Fitting in, being incredibly shy and the silent type, being Asian and oh, the bullying and teasing made my high school life miserable, and so I never had any friends. Making friends post-secondary school (in the U.S, it's primary school/Junior school level) was a difficult thing for me to do from high school onwards.... and into adulthood, right through to my current job and workplace, it has become something that I thought I might take to heart with. 

I was told by a tutor at college at one time back in the early 2000s when I was in my early twenties that you don't make friends whilst studying, but at work and when you are working... well, almost 20 years on, this turned out to be a lie. This might be the case if you are in a sector such as teaching, working as a teacher or tutor or as an actor working in TV or film in Hollywood, for instance. Working life in during the adult stages of our lives is supposed to be the periods when we, as people and individuals, come out of our shell, and in working with people, allows us to be comfortable in our own skin and around our colleagues by making ourselves approachable, whilst also gaining further skills, boosting our self-confidence & making a contribution to the organisation we work for. 

But for us working people who work in retail, hospitality, it is, not so the case. To this day, I am an introvert (although I make attempts to communicate and converse with my peers), keep my head down and focus on my job. This is because, in retail, office politics and colleagues forming cliques with people of their own culture are seen as a big deal, mainly because it easily gives them someone to identify with ... and if you don't fall in either category or choose not to conform, you are seen as the odd one out. Or that is assumed to be the case. 

I say assumed, because really, whilst it is hugely important for some or a lot of people, me personally, as long as I am civil and help the team or my colleagues achieve what needs to be done, as well as get paid, then that's all that matters. You can be considerate, amicable, cordial, converse and have friendly banter with your coworkers and do your job, without being attached to them by being friends with them, and with difficult and bossy people, one can find or try to find common or middle ground with them, without having to like them. Just because I talk with him/her doesn't automatically imply or insist and I and they are 'friends'. If we were or are friends, we would hang out together or socialise outside of work. But I don't. I can respect them as colleagues, but as people and human beings, well, that is a different story, altogether. I am not to everyone's liking, and this has been something that I grew to accept over time, I keep a distance most of the time during my breaks, and there are people whose personalities don't gel with me, and of whom won't change, ever. It goes both ways. 

I spend more time at work and being at work and less time getting together with relatives as the work and social life balance I have is practically zero.... and still, I'm not too bothered about making friends with people. 

I work hard or I try to work hard to earn money and to earn the respect of my peers, remain professional and to get paid. That's it. 

When it gets to a point when it becomes toxic - gossiping, backstabbing, negative drama, that is when I try to steer clear or keep my mouth shut because then, it turns into an argument and it escalates further on that our work becomes unproductive. It just shows that at work, not everything goes to plan and smoothly, because there are always those little incidents that, or people, who try to make it difficult. But isn't that the purpose of work: to seek solutions, to provide and pose challenges for us to undertake and to overcome so that both parties who are involved end up satisfied?
Yes, work is vitally important; working is important, but that is because it pays the bills, puts food on the table and to support ourselves and our loved ones during the present and for the foreseeable future. Trying to build working relations with our colleagues is another, but also it involves forging and maintaining a particular bond throughout the course of your time with them by having that one thing you or I share in common with her/him -, I'm not saying that it isn't feasible and yet also, by looking at it in another way, that is just not possible with every single person who works at the same place as where you are. 

There is probably one, two, or maybe three people at my workplace I'd consider as people I confide in and of whom I don't have any issues with, whatsoever that I could possibly see as friends over the next few years. But other than that, I don't interact with them on social media and outside of work and I don't let it consume me, or I try not to let it consume me because it makes me feel worse. 

There are more important things in life, and making and finding friends during adulthood can be challenging, but that is the least of my priorities & concerns. 
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