Doctor’s Orders

I’m sorry to say I can’t publish a new article I had planned this week because I’ve gone and injured one of my fingers. It’s been swollen for many months, but it recently got so painful that I finally went to the doctor to get it X-rayed on Friday. I learned that the bones at one of the joints are out of position, which is causing the swelling and even a bit of arthritis. I’m hopefully going to talk to an orthopedic doctor this coming week to see if it can be treated, but in the meantime it’s painful for me to type on a keyboard, especially with two of my fingers taped together.

My middle finger is swollen and painful.My doctor said to lay off activities that use my hands as much as possible, which is kind of hard to do as a writer. I will try to power through in the future and come up with creative workarounds. We’ll see. I’m very sorry to allow such a seemingly small thing to keep me from doing what I love and giving you quality content. Unfortunately, my hand is tied.

This is the Deja Reviewer bidding you farewell until we meet again.

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The Loneliness at the Top

Success is hard. It’s not just hard to attain, but it’s equally hard to endure. Have you ever wanted to do something so badly, and you worked hard until you finally did it? It might be finishing a college degree, getting a prestigious job, paying off a mortgage, winning a sports competition, or successfully raising children to adulthood. Whatever it is, it wasn’t easy to do. It’s breathtaking to reach a height few have dreamed of, but it’s also frightening for two reasons: you have so far to fall, and there’s no one to look up to.

I no longer envy filmmakers or actors whose films become runaway blockbusters because from then on, they are marked for destruction. From then on, they have to live up to lofty expectations, and there’s little chance that they will. Even if they do for a long time, someday their stars will fade. They won’t be as good-looking or talented as they used to be, and they’ll have to suffer public scrutiny on a scale I shudder to contemplate. That is the fate of most people who attain a high level of distinction in many areas of life. Just because they are able to come up with a creative idea or perform a task better than anyone else doesn’t mean they will be able to keep coming up with more ideas or remain the best when a superior challenger comes along. Once you reach the top, it can seem like it’s all downhill from there.

Let’s look at three movies that deal with the loneliness at the top. Continue reading

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10 People and Things I’m Thankful for

I’ll keep things nice and simple this Thanksgiving by sharing 10 people and things I’m thankful for: Continue reading

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What Makes a Movie Endlessly Rewatchable?

When I finish watching great films like The Godfather or The Deer Hunter, I feel like my mind has enjoyed a sumptuous meal. I’m completely satisfied, and I don’t feel the need to return to them and consume any more for a long time.

And then there are other amazing films like The Fugitive, WarGames, and Aliens. The moment the end credits roll on these films, I am both contented and hungry for more. I could watch them again right then and there, and I have on several occasions. Something about them draws me back in so that I’m never completely satisfied, but in a good way.

You probably have a list of films you can never get enough of, and it’s probably different than mine. What makes these movies endlessly rewatchable? I’ll answer this question based on the movies I love, so I won’t claim that it’s true for everyone. Continue reading

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What Is Phil Connors’ Nature?

Do you ever take a mental inventory of yourself, thinking about areas where you could improve? I did that this week when I got a text message from my oldest brother. He is probably the greatest man I have ever known, and I’ve always looked up to him as the model for how to be happy and successful in life. Quite spontaneously this week, he texted me to say he’s proud of me. He has witnessed many of my ups and downs in life, and he’s perfectly aware of my immaturity in previous years, so it means a lot to me that he can look past all that to say that what I have become is worthy of praise.

When he told me that, I thanked him and then pondered on two questions: am I a good person, and what is my nature? I was often quick to anger in my youth, and I have offended many people as a result. But I’ve always felt bad about my behavior on those occasions, and I’ve done my best to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the people I’ve hurt. So I was able to conclude that I’m imperfect and have a lot of room to improve, but the fact that I always want to be better and be kinder to people means that my nature is ultimately good. It’s my nature to be positive and thoughtful, and whenever I go contrary to that I feel bad because I intuitively recognize it’s not what I want to be. Continue reading

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No One Knows What to Do with James Cameron’s Child Characters

Terminator: Dark Fate killed the child character from James Cameron’s previous installment in its opening scene. After all of Sarah Connor’s sacrifices to stay alive, give birth to the future savior of mankind, and protect him at all costs in the first two Terminator films, this newest film makes it clear that it was all for naught. Another Terminator came and finished the job the first two failed to do. John Connor is dead.

This reminds me of Alien3. In the opening scene of that film, the child character from James Cameron’s Aliens is killed unceremoniously. After all of Ripley’s efforts to stay alive, rescue Newt, and protect her at all costs in the first two films, Alien3 makes it clear that it was all for naught. Ripley’s triumph at the end of the last film turned into devastation at the start of the next film. Newt is dead. Continue reading

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Why The Sixth Sense’s Twist Works

I once heard someone criticize The Sixth Sense saying that there’s no way Dr. Malcolm Crowe could have gone for a long period of time without noticing that no one ever made eye contact with him or talked to him besides Cole. But I think that criticism misses the point of this film’s twist. It doesn’t work because it’s based on real-world logic; it works because it makes us question our assumptions as we watch a movie.

To me, a movie is basically a short story. Everything in a short story has to convey a lot of information, and there’s not much room for indulgence, as opposed to a novel. A novel can take its time introducing characters, showing how they react to different situations and how they grow over time. It can also spend a lot of time on descriptions of settings and actions. A short story has to get to the point immediately and cram all that character development into a handful of scenes at most. Descriptions of characters, settings, and actions have to mean something more than the obvious. Reading a short story vs. a novel requires a different state of mind. We make different assumptions when reading each one.

It’s the same with movies. There are certain premises we have to accept in order to quickly process what we are watching. Here are some of these premises that The Sixth Sense uses to create its twist ending. Continue reading

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