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Tuesday, 19 May 2020

To Feel Valued By Others, Or To Value Our Self-Worth Ourselves?

By Waiching

According to Annie McKee, author of  How To Be Happy At Work, ''we all have a human need to be appreciated for our efforts, and so when your colleagues don't notice (your contributions), it makes you feel as though you don't belong. Self-doubt starts to creep in, and you think, 'if no one notices what I'm doing, how am I going to get ahead?''.

I guess one should ask themselves, why should I toot my own horn? Validating myself is a form of external validation and to make a concerted effort to pat myself on the back for a 'job well done'.

Feeling valued and appreciated at work is something we need to boost our confidence and to encourage us to do even better. Whether we admit it, or not. As humans, it's in our nature to want to feel appreciated, loved, supported and included. As employees, when we feel valued and that we matter we tend to find ourselves engaged with our work and feel satisfied and motivated when things go right. It acts as a motivator for us to do better and for him/her to realise that my/our efforts count for something by recognising and acknowledging them. 

Self - value is often behavioural than emotional and it is all about how you act towards something you value. When we value or place value on others, we value and pride ourselves more and are able to grow and develop as humans. It is often said that by putting ourselves and our needs first ahead of others, we are being vain, selfish and unkind: this line of thinking may ring true to most people, but deep down, the thing is that if either you or I don't take care of ourselves and make ourselves the number 1 priority, first and foremost and realising that as we are not all perfect, we have imperfections and flaws that need to be ironed out and addressed, then when problems do arise, we are, unfortunately, ill-equipped in dealing with them on an emotional level. Alas, we end up doing and saying things that we regret later on. 

Why should we preach to others in valuing, acknowledging and respecting us, - yet we don't take care of and look after ourselves and manage our own self-care? It doesn't make sense. You and your needs come first before others. 

For years since I was young, I allowed myself to be taken advantage of and trying to appease people to get them to value and like me. I was giving so much of myself, but I ended up being pushed back. I surrounded myself with certain people, of whom instead of lifting me up, brought me misery, who dragged me down. That, and the 'rejection' and resentment hurt me. As I got older, I saw to it that this was unhealthy and that I couldn't afford to go down that road. 

By convincing others of your worth and not having self-respect for yourself, you are setting yourself up for disappointment, because you are seeking validation from them, in an attempt to determine your happiness, your joy. This is wrong. It is also wrong for people to mistreat you, and if they do that, you need to walk away and keep a distance. 

Valuing yourself is not of you lowering your guard or your standards, it does not mean being arrogant or bragging about how good or amazing you are: rather it is by you in recognising the skills, traits, positive qualities that we acquire that make you of value, reinforcing what are your strongest assets, whilst still actively working on your weakest ones. As long as you do it without disrespecting others, you are free to stay true to who you are and that whenever someone tries to dampen your mood, you never take it personally & that you ignore it and brush it off.

In all walks of life, people accept and work in low-paid jobs or jobs where they are dealing with and working alongside different types of people from around the world and whose personalities differ and vary across the board. There are people of whom you may get along with, and others of whom you don't & won't: HOWEVER, if you go to work with the intention of earning and making money and not making friends, then this won't be such a big deal to you. 

Remember, you can't change other people by being so dependant on them, especially so that you want them to see that you are of merit to them, as well as for them, - but what you can do is to change and control yourself, your emotions, your responses, your actions for yourself, for the greater good, and in doing so, recognising your self-worth. In doing so, you are confident, content, happy. Be kind, be positive and compassionate and tune out those negative feelings.

I must stop in giving so much of myself away to other people that do not value and respect me & to place a higher worth on myself. I deserve to be happy.

Know what you are worth, appreciate your own worth and the good deeds that you hold in high regard. Don't compare yourself to others, but rather challenge yourself. Establish boundaries and when you sense that someone has infringed them, let them know or just maintain a distance from him/her. Work to the best of your ability, even if others may not see it themselves or shout about it. And so what if they don't see or appreciate your true worth? Happiness comes from within you, from not giving a damn what anyone else thinks or says and by valuing the skills and strengths that you bring to the table and your successes and achievements in life. 

You live your life for yourselves - not them, not him/her, & neither for anyone else. 

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Retro Review: Disappearing Acts (2000)

Disappearing Acts
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Sanaa Lathan, Regina Hall, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Q-Tip, John Amos, CCH Pounder, Laz Alonso, Michael Imperioli
Genre: Romantic Drama

Plot:  A couple in the midst of a tumultuous relationship fight to stay together

'Strong Performances in this Made-For-TV Movie That Deserved The Big Screen Treatment'

Disappearing Acts is another in the long line of relationship-based (romantic) drama films that, while touching on the trials and tribulations of two people who fall for each other and of whom love one another, unfortunately, doesn't attempt to reach any new territory, and in doing so, it ends up being nothing more than a rehash of familiar material that one has seen elsewhere in countless other movies and with a new set of characters. As with any TV movie film, Disappearing Acts serves up the expected ups and downs in a soap-opera-ish way. Based on the novel by best-selling author, Terry McMillan (Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back), HBO Films dished up this version in 2000, and whilst this is not an incredibly memorable film, it does hit a nerve several times; however, due to its limitations as a TV movie, I cannot help but feel how much more it could have achieved, had it been given the full cinematic treatment. 

Disappearing Acts follows Franklin, an uneducated construction worker and Zora, a music teacher and aspiring singer, from the first time they meet up, and tracks their troublesome and turbulent relationship and all of the various inevitable conflicts that arise. Neither Zora and Franklin are without faults and this makes them more believable as people and gives the story something to focus on. They take it in turns to exhibiting less than amiable behaviours, and things come to a head when complications arise and Zora falls pregnant and Franklin is unable to support her. Most of the drama that occurs is cliched and fairly predictable, and henceforth, becomes a little tiresome after a while.

At first, earlier on, I sort of wanted Zora and Franklin to get together, but as the film went on, I felt that they weren't right for each other, and they appeared to be ill-defined. Disappearing Acts is a look at relationships and it shows that not everything is as rosy as it seems: two people are drawn together based on physical and sexual attraction, thinking this is as good as it gets for them... until the realities of a relationship start to sink in, gets complicated and become difficult.

It's pleasing to see and hear characters talk and act like real people; it's just that the twists and turns don't seem to be as surprising and revealing, and that is due to it being a TV movie. Disappearing Acts offers nothing new and doesn't really attempt to break any new ground. The film relies entirely on the strong performances and chemistry of Sanaa Lathan and Wesley Snipes: the characters go through an array of emotions, they constantly argue and fight with each other, they make up. Snipes gives a surprisingly good turn, - although some will argue about his casting and that they could have got another actor instead of him, Lathan fares just as well as her male star. The ending, which whilst it is supposed to satisfy, feels somewhat forced, because its outcome seems to be exactly what the film had been struggling with, as opposed to what it was alluding to. 

Final Verdict:

The film gets by because of the story and the performances by Lathan and Snipes and the onscreen chemistry that they exhibit, and less so because of Zora and Franklin as characters and people, who are less defined and not as well developed by the writers, and which is why I was glued. 

As a whole, whilst it's not great, it was still watchable. 


Monday, 11 May 2020

Retro Review: Anger Management (2003)

Anger Management
Cast: Adam Sandler, Jack Nicholson, Marisa Tomei, Luis Guzman, Woody Harrelson, John Turturro, Heather Graham 
Genre: Buddy Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $195 million

Plot: A timid businessman is wrongly sentenced to an anger management program, where he has his life turned upside by an ultra-aggressive instructor who hardly practices what he preaches 

'Don't Get Mad - In Fact, This Is A Surprisingly Witty Buddy Comedy'

You'll either dig Adam Sandler's humour or not, and the same goes with his films: for every Punch- Drunk Love, Reign over Me and Uncut Gems in the drama stakes, there is a Eight Crazy Nights (which I heard, and based on the number of comments on Letterboxd from users, is one of his sheer worst), Little Nicky, Jack & Jill, The Ridiculous 6 and Billy Madison amongst other so-called comedy no-nos. For me, I like Adam Sandler's humour in small doses, and when he isn't relying on being angry, brash and mean all of the time. Anger Management was his follow-up to the groundbreaking indie drama, Punch-Drunk Love, which won him plaudits, - and, whilst this was a return to his usual, dumb comedian-ish self, for once and for a change, Sandler didn't mug the camera, as the Sandler formula here doesn't feel shoved down our throats, but rather restrained in places and as he allows co-lead, Jack Nicholson to share the spotlight.

Thus Lo and behold, in Anger Management, I have found an Adam Sandler comedy that I actually enjoyed. I'm not a big Adam Sandler fan, but I love watching comedy movies, and yet I can't deny he can be and is a funny person, onscreen. 

Following a misunderstanding on board an airplane, where a flight attendant is injured, executive secretary, Dave is ordered to attend anger management therapy by the judge and under the supervision of Dr Buddy Lydell: the guy, who was sitting next to him on the plane. Yet Dave insists he doesn't have an anger problem. When he gets himself into trouble the second time, Dave is sentenced to 30 days of intensive anger management. He is not too keen on the idea; however, he sees it as a way to keep himself out of jail. Yet things get a little weirder, when overtime, Dave realises that the doc, of whom Dave is forced to live with 24/7, might be far more unstable than his patients.  

What seems to be different about this picture is that unlike other Adam Sandler movies, it is relatively fun; not in a thought-provoking way but it remains amusing in places without being too dumbed down and resorting to childish, low-brow jokes too often. 

Sandler's Dave Buznik comes across as sincere and Sandler's performance as that character was so refreshing to see; to see him play Dave as the down-to-earth, nice guy, and a mild-mannered guy who designs outfits for fat cats, as in felines (and as amusing and sweet as it sounds) and of whom has a beautiful girlfriend to share his life with. Sure, there are instances where Sandler goes loud, but he manages to show restraint and doesn't overwhelm the movie and his co-stars with his turn. Jack Nicholson was exceedingly good, it brought back memories of The Witches of Eastwick and As Good As It Gets as he dabbles in comedy, revelling and embracing himself in the silliness of it all. It might be hard to fathom picturing Nicholson playing an eccentric shrink and in a light-hearted way, yet he does so here, along with that Nicholson charisma aplenty: Rydell is a shrink all right, but one whose methods are bonkers, so much so, Nicholson and Sandler's roles/characters could've been the other way round, with Sandler as the crazy doctor and Nicholson trying to keep things sane. Nicholson is a great foil for Sandler, and though it is an unlikely pairing one doesn't expect, the way they go about their characters onscreen makes it work. If there were any downsides it is that the supporting cast including John Turturro, Woody Harrelson, as a flamboyant drag queen, and Luis Guzman in bit-part roles were underutilized and just weren't given enough to do. The Heather Graham eating chocolate cupcakes gag felt flat as well, although the fight scene with John C. Reily in the role of Dave's former childhood nemesis/buddy, was chuckle-worthy. 

Anger Management is a buddy-ish comedy that succeeds in parts but also it goes down the rom-com territory during the last part of the movie involving Dave and Marisa Tomei's Linda. This was something I didn't anticipate, and when I think about it, it feels like the way they handled it made this aspect feel out of place. I mean, it's good that it gives the film something else to focus on, besides Dave and Dr Buddy Lydell, but it didn't quite click with me as it should do. The story then loses its way a little when it is discovered that Linda has been going out with Buddy. That and the ending could have been better. 

Final Verdict:

A comedy that shows off more of the gentler side of Adam Sandler that we need more of, even if he tones down his antics just a little, it doesn't make Anger Management less entertaining and amusing as it is. That, and, with the side helping of Jack Nicholson as one-half of the buddy comedy duo, you have yourself a comedy that, surprisingly, smacks of occasional wit. 

Frankly, this is the movie that Analyze This or the follow-up in Analyze That should have been. 


Saturday, 9 May 2020

Retro Review: Paycheck (2003)

Cast: Ben Affleck, Uma Thurman, Aaron Eckhart, Paul Giamatti, Joe Morton, Michael C. Hall
Genre: Science Fiction Action 
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $117 million 

Plot: What seemed like a breezy idea for an engineer to net him millions of dollars, leaves him on the run of his life and piecing together why he's being chased 

'Check, Please'

A poor man's Total Recall meets Minority Report, Paycheck follows the character of Michael Jennings, a reverse engineer who carries out the work for companies who want to copy and improve upon their rival's technology. To maintain confidentiality, Jennings must have his memory wiped out after each task is completed; with that, he is injected with a capsule that erases his thoughts. These assignments last a few months, after which he is rewarded with a big paycheck/cheque. Later on, when 3 years are up, it is discovered that as he is about to collect the money, Jennings is told he has forfeited the money and is instead sent an envelope containing a set of items. When he is arrested and interrogated by police and billionaire, Rethrick's team, he uses some of those items, as Jennings figures out why he didn't get paid. With the FBI on his back and armed with the envelope, he seeks to find out the truth. 

From the writer of Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life and the Manchurian Candidate, Paycheck was initially considered to be directed by either Brett Ratner and Kathryn Bigelow, until John Woo sealed the deal. Based on a story by Philip K. Dick, who helmed Total Recall, under Woo's vision, it plays out as an action yarn, yet it also turns out that Paycheck is (one of) the most boring and weakest offerings, coming from the Hong Kong-born director. 

Even with the lack of action scenes, the story must be good, right? Well, evidently no. John Woo is good at directing and focusing on action, but for Hard Boiled and The Killer, he doesn't have quite have a grip on the story aspect of movies, which are story-driven. Here, Woo is on autopilot as he turns Paycheck into a chase movie but with very little good action (the fight scenes were not bad) and a convoluted story that isn't deep enough, nor doesn't truly make any strides and is overshadowed and drowned out by car chases, gunfights, explosions, fights. The action scenes lack pizazz, as here Woo abandons his typical and obligatory visual flair and any potential for greatness goes to waste. 

Blander than 1996's Broken Arrow, despite some of his trademark points, this is Woo's most generic film coupled with a not very grand supporting casting and the final result is a ropey and forgettable B-movie at most. Affleck is poorly cast, as is Aaron Eckhart and Uma Thurman in this vehicle,- although in Thurman, she does display some versatility in the action front, and thus she did go on one better in Kill Bill. Besides the uninspired casting, the film's biggest sin is that this is flat out dull. This is supposed to be a suspenseful yarn with some clever and meaningful twists & surprises: yet Paycheck doesn't manage to be it. The film's aspects fail to gel.

A 2000s Total Recall of sorts, Payback is further derailed by the cold chemistry of the mismatched pairing of Uma Thurman as a biologist and leading man, Ben Affleck: had it had better leads, then even with the shortcomings of the script, it might have given it that extra push and made it a tad more entertaining. 

To note, Paycheck is also one of the few films to star a trio of actors with a Batman connection in Ben Affleck (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice), Uma Thurman (Batman and Robin) and Aaron Eckhart (Harley Dent in Batman Begins).

Final Verdict:

This is John Woo at his lowest and most inoffensive on a creative scale, and with Paycheck flopping at the box office, it, unfortunately, marked the end of his Hollywood reign, after his breakthrough success, Hard Target in 1993. Much like with his Western output, bar Hard Target and Face/Off, it has its moments but due to its all-too-generic feel, Paycheck never manages to scale to even greater heights as one would expect from a director of his pedigree, who has been unquestionably one of Hong Kong action cinema's premier auteurs.

Alas, this, somewhat, serves as a hefty blemish on his career.


Friday, 8 May 2020

Retro Review: Drop Zone (1994)

Drop Zone
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Gary Busey, Yancy Butler, Michael Jeter
Genre: Action Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $28 million

Plot: A tough cop teams up with a professional skydiver to capture a renegade computer hacker on the run from the law

'Drop It Like It's... Uh, I dunno, But I Liked It'

1994's Drop Zone was Wesley Snipes' second or be it third major crack as an action movie star, following on from roles as the villain, Simon Phoenix opposite Slyvester Stallone in Demolition Man and as a cop in Passenger 57, although Drop Zone falls more in line with Passenger 57, as opposed to the sci-fi former. It went toe- to- toe with the similarly-themed, Terminal Velocity, only it didn't fare as well as its counterpart/rival in the box office, by comparison. Directed by the man behind the 70's classic, Saturday Night Fever, this action-thriller sees U.S Marshall, Pete Nessip assigned in escorting a prisoner named Earl to jail. 

Yet the same flight that Pete and Earl are both on gets hijacked by parachuting terrorists led by former DEA Agent Gary Busey's T.Y, who have staged a prison break on a commercial 747 plane in an attempt to rescue Earl; Pete digs deep in finding out who was behind the hijacking and the reasons for it and his investigation leads him to a female skydiving crew member: the reformed Jess, who used to be part of T.Y's faction, and both her and Pete, put their differences aside and work together to capture T.Y. 

Drop Zone may not be very deep or suspenseful, nor is it neither focused on the realism of skydiving and its extreme sport culture, but in an action B-movie sense, this is a fun little film that doesn't waste any time dragging out the details, but focus on getting as much done as possible in a small package. It also shows Wesley Snipes being his bad-ass self and displaying his ever-impressive martial arts skills; I always enjoy seeing him kicking people in his action movies, be it, Passenger 57, Demolition Man, Blade, it makes one wonder what a breath of fresh air he would have been alongside other action movie stars, Schwarzenneger, Stallone, Jackie Chan, Steven Segal, Dolph Lundgren, Jean-Claude Van Damme, had Wesley Snipes fully gone down that route and was moulded as an action star. That, and given the lack of Black action movie stars, Snipes was arguably and probably Hollywood's best chance on the commercial, blockbuster front for that. 

Whilst I would have preferred to see more action set pieces and scenes, the action in Drop Zone fares all right. Snipes and Yancy Butler make for an unexpected male/female action film duo. Butler, in particular, takes on a more robust and slightly weighty role, in stark contrast to the one in John Woo's Hard Target opposite, or be it alongside Jean-Claude Van Damme; instead of hiding behind the hero, here Butler's Jessie takes on the criminals, & one who is a tough chick to crack. She of whom also has a one-on-one girl vs girl fight against Claire Stansfield's Kara, which the fight wasn't too bad itself. Gary Busey is as over-the-top here as he was in Under Siege in a similar role as the main antagonist, the snarling T.Y. The cast also includes The Cosby Show's Malcolm Jamal Warner in a short-lived role, rounded up by other B-movie performers, Michael Jeter (The Fisher King) as a creepy computer hacker criminal that is busted out of prison, Claire Stansfield and the heavily- tattooed Robert LaSardo, who is no stranger to playing bad guys on the big screen.

The plotline is silly and daft, and occasionally tone-deaf but as an action thriller that doesn't take itself way too seriously, it still managed to keep me peeled. The high- flying stunts, whilst they aren't anything we haven't seen elsewhere, it's good to have them in here because otherwise, it would have made the film less appealing and entertaining to sit through. Drop Zone is far-fetched as skydiving action flicks go, but with its 'Die Hard' set in the sky setting, it survives with a curious B-movie cast and its assortment of characters, a leave- your- brain- at- the- door escapist feel, some entertaining action set pieces that include some cool skydiving scenes, & one that takes place in a public toilet, Wesley Snipes's onscreen kills, a mixture of gunplay sequences and hand-to-hand combat and a story that I enjoyed and got into more as events unfold and the twists were thrown in. As the film went on, the more I was drawn towards the storyline, as well as the protagonists in Snipes and Butler. 

Final Verdict:

Much like with Point of No Return and Stakeout, here director John Badham goes loud, big and fast in the Speed, Die Hard sense, mixed in with a bit of skydiving by commanding the pace of the film & keeping me invested in it; and with that, Drop Zone is an overly decent action thriller that, whilst it could have done and had, even more, to make it a far better movie, it still delivered on its intentions and alas, this was still a nice little treat to see. 

I liked this one a lot. 


Tuesday, 5 May 2020

11 Favourite Lady Gaga's 'The Cure' Pop Mash-Ups

What is a mash-up?

A mash-up is usually a form of creative work, usually a song or composition, that blends two or more pre-recorded songs by superimposing the vocal track of one song onto the instrumental/backing track of another, increasing, inverting or altering the pitch and tempo to make it fit. Have you ever heard a mash-up and thought to yourself, perhaps the instrumental of a particular song sounds a better fit for the lyrics and vocals than the original or actual instrumental of that record? 

Songs aren't generally built or put together from scratch to match each other, harmony and musically. Yet sometimes, there are songs written and composed in the same key or with similar chord structures that when by analysing what they are and they are combined together, musically it makes perfect sense and you can sense which ones actually work well with one another.  

The key to a really good mash-up is that both songs are, vocally, lyrically and musically, in the same key, without the mash-up feeling and sounding out of sync and out of tune. 

It just goes to show that sometimes the best result turns out to be the one you'd least or never imagined.

''I like it when two songs that weren't put together before are put together. Suddenly, it works'' - Brian Eno, music producer

About The Cure

Performed and recorded by Lady Gaga, The Cure is a song that was released digitally back in 2017 that is also written by Gaga alongside DJ White Shadow, Nick Monson, Lukas Nelson and Mark Nilan and came about prior to the filming of 2018's remake of A Star is Born starring Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. A massive departure from her previous and latter material including Just Dance, Alejandro and Bad Romance, this mid-tempo offering stuck out through the finger snaps, its R&B euro-pop-soul - like feel and Lady Gaga's impressive falsetto and thus displaying and demonstrating a vocal range that was so unlike any other on her previous records. 

The Cure peaked at #29 on the US Billboard Hot 100

There have been music mash-ups that have worked, and there have also been music mash-ups which haven't quite worked as well as one expected, but the ones I have chosen at random are examples of when a mash-up works so well. 

I've selected one song per artist to represent each of my favourite mash-ups

with Dua Lipa's Cool  /mkd mashup - The Cure with an '80s electropop new wave sound

with Taylor Swift's 22 /Music Splash Mashups - The Cure given the Taylor Swift treatment

with Jojo feat. Remy Ma's F.A.B/Al Mashups *explicit lyrics* - The Cure with an R&B edge 

with Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way /TornadoJer - The Cure given the late 1990s boyband treatment 

with Katy Perry's Never Really Over/Dennis Lemp Mashups 

with Britney's Spears's Liar/Mehdi *explicit lyrics* 

with Zedd & Liam Payne's Get Low/DJ Lacy Mashups

with Ed Sheeran's Galway Girl/LopanMashups

with Spice Girls' Mama/Stan O

with Zedd and Marren Morris's The Middle/Samuel's Mashups

with Taylor Swift's The Man/FadylAstakhovaMusic 
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