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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. 

And there are some who are so content to prattle on and on and even ask intrusive questions about your personal life, such as if you have a boyfriend/husband or if you are married. I feel the workplace is not the appropriate place to discuss such matters as such as for me, this is an invasion of privacy. I don't pry on other colleagues' love lives, and so why should they do this to me?

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, remain professional and to get paid. That's it. 

When it gets to a point when it becomes toxic - gossiping, backstabbing, negative drama, clique-y behaviour, 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 - or be it my 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. 

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. 

I'm here to represent the company I work for, I'm here to work for the money and to go on holiday. Nothing else. & overtime, I saw it to it pays off to stand my ground by focusing on myself only - & that only. 

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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