Sunday, July 22, 2012

This Is The Life

"This is the life."

...says Sam, sitting in the passenger seat of a 2011 Chevy Impala loaner with a biscuit breakfast sandwich from Burger King in his lap and silly grin on his face. It was the picture of ultimate contentment. Sam has a way of reminding me what that looks like.

This morning Sam (my 14-year-old bro) and I were charged with the privilege of driving this loaner car to church, compliments of our out-of-commission Chevy Blazer, out for break repairs.

Call us simpletons, but being able to control the radio volume from the steering wheel was like Christmas in July. The drive to church was spend marveling at the cherry finish framing the radio, the little snowflake marking the AC, even the digital temperature reader.

For once we wished the ride to church was longer. When we pulled into the church parking lot, we lingered a bit before getting out of the car and giggling like 5-year-olds when I locked the car from the keychain with the push of a button as we walked away.

The drive home only got better. With the Word of the Lord in our hearts, Burger King sounded good for our stomachs. Does it get any better? It was after we had our food and were pulling out of the Burger King parking lot in what may as well have been a limo, that Sam uttered his catchphrase: "This is the life."

Sam says this a lot. And what I love about it is how genuine it is everytime he says it. He really means it. He reminds me that this really is the life. It really doesn't get much better than riding home from church in a 2011 Chevy Impala with your best little bud and a cup holder full of hashbrowns. Or SyFy marathons on a lazy Saturday. Or getting to lay out on the front lawn on a night so clear you can see the milky way streaming through a sea of stars.

Being easily impressed can sometimes be viewed as pathetic. But really, it's finding joy and beauty in the simplicity of everyday miracles.

I hope I never lose that wonderment, that thankfulness. That's really what contentment is. Being able to see how incredibly blessed you are, and realize that every little luxury you have is a blessing. This really is the life. This family, the friends I've been blessed with, getting to drive a 2011 Chevy Impala to church with Sam. Thanks, Sam, for the reminder.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

I think I realized why I don't write on this blog more. Aside from pure laziness, it's pressure. As a writer, I feel like every post has to be a profound piece of eye-opening poetry. When in reality I just need to write.

Ok, so after that pep talk, I suppose I'd better write something.

I went to the Dark Knight Rises at midnight Thursday night. Apparently doing so was a testament to my youthful spirit of adventure, according to my coworkers. I like that. You only live once! Seize the day!

In a not-so-youthful trademark of mine, I arrived an hour and 15 minutes early. After being convinced by the extremely persuasive concession worker to upgrade my popcorn to large, I entered the batcave, I mean, theater, armed with enough sustenance to last me more than the three hours and 44 minutes running time.

I was more than ready for this movie. I've been ready for this movie since the release of Batman Begins in 2005. This movie release was a countdown widget on my phone.

You get the idea. I was excited. The rest of my posse filtered in over the next hour. We passed the time with movie banter and squeals of glee before the hour finally arrived and the adventure began.

And an adventure it was, indeed! My friend and I agreed that we felt exhausted after watching it. Both physically and emotionally. I almost feel like I have to see it again before really writing about it.

My first go-around impression was that it was a compelling, breathtaking testament to the meaning of ultimate sacrifice, and the internal struggles that bring us to what that really means. I think what surprised me the most was the attention Nolan gave to so many of the characters. Batman had much less screen time than I anticipated, but I liked that. Catwoman was very well-developed, a character I did not expect to like as much as I did. The same with Jospeh Gordon-Levitt's character (who is fighting for my favorite). Bane I expected to be a strong character, and no disappointment there.

Aside from the well-constructed characters and performances, the artistry of Nolan never ceases to amaze me. The way he constructs and tells a story is unlike any director I've ever seen. The attention to detail, the way he uses the score, the way he shoots, the editing, everything has his name stamped all over it, and that's a very good thing. Even the tones of the movie, from the color schemes to the costumes, all work together to create the lasting impression this movie leaves.

Ultimately what reels me into a movie is well-written characters. And this movie was overflowing. The story is pushed by the characters. And each character has depth that draws you into caring about them. I won't go into detail about their individual stories, lest I spoil something for someone, but what I said earlier about ultimate sacrifice is touched on in some way by each character, be it good or bad.

I think one of the reasons Nolan chose Batman of all superheroes was because he was the most human. Superheroes are generally larger-than-life characters with superhuman abilities. This is a good thing, in the sense that they are role models to look up to and can strive to emulate. But on the other hand, they can also be unrelatable, unattainable. What I like about Batman, and Nolan's portrayal of him and any character he tackles, is their struggle with weakness. They may overcome it, they may not, but you see the struggle. This is encouraging because it brings them onto a level we can relate to. And with Batman we still see the ultimate triumph, but we also get to see the journey he took to get there.

So...yes, I loved this movie. I may have something completely different to say about it the second time around, but I can't wait to figure out what that might be. Thank you, Christopher Nolan, for showing the world why filmmaking is absolutely an artform, and a medium with the power to touch and connect people in ways no other medium can.