Riveting entertainment

Autopsy is a television series from Britain’s ITV studios that analyses the life and last days of famous people. Dr. Jason Payne-James looks at the cause of death that is on the celebrity’s death certificate, but looking closely at the evidence he concurs with the certificate or comes to another conclusion.

The subjects of the series are people well-known in film, music, and sports. The days leading up to the untimely deaths of actors Robin Williams and Heath Ledger are analyzed. In the episode I am looking at today, the life and death of the Irish-born, Manchester United footballer George Best are scrutinized.

The tricky winger is regarded as the one of the greatest UK footballers [soccer] if not the best ever. But his downfall was that he had a disease—he was an alcoholic. Death by alcoholism is not mentioned on the death certificate, but Dr. Payne-James postulates that Best may have died from alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Payne-James investigates.

Payne-James faces the camera with his findings interspersed with a psychologist’s assessment and dramatic recreation of Best, his family, wives, partying, and old stock footage of Best on the field playing soccer and when he is in the public eye.

The path of Best’s alcoholism is scary. This progressive disease over thirty years certainly had an impact on Best’s health.

It’s a wake-up call for anyone jolted into looking after themselves after watching this program.

The reason for Best’s drinking habit is given at the start. He was a shy young man and became a social drinker.

This led him to going to the bottle when challenges in life came his way.

One such challenge was the death of his mother. She couldn’t take the public criticism of his son when he gave up football. She took to the bottle and eventually died of alcoholism.

A lesson of this episode is to look after yourself. Keep off self-destructive tendencies no matter what it takes. Do something about it. This program can scare one into submission to doing the right thing.

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Mysteriously good

Half way through alien arrival movie Arrival (2016) there’s a fuzzy sense of plot which keeps you wondering about what is going on to extraterrestrial linguist Louise (Amy Adams). With the military backing her she’s trying to decipher the intent of aliens as twelve alien shells cause panic all over the world. Yet flashbacks seem to be Louise having a breakdown, or is stress fatigue, or she is really having meaningful, significant memories about her daughter.

Maybe she is going through something else, perhaps psychic phenomena giving her a sixth sense.

As everything in Arrival comes out in the wash, the resolution is meaningful. Does knowing what will happen to someone you love, whose death is impending, matter as much as celebrating the life itself?

Yes, Arrival is all rather mysteriously good.

No swearing, sex or violence, but there is psychic phenomenon and the presence of aliens which may put some viewers off. As a film, I don’t recommend it for fans of action science fiction because Arrival may be too slow—except this slow burn is very suspenseful. I found the film riveting and all very interesting.

However, on second thoughts, the drawn out, fascinating, edge of your seat communication process between human and alien—where the humans aim to find out alien intentions—is spoiled by making it obvious. The subtitles explain what the aliens are saying and reveals why the aliens are on earth, but they could have made it subtle. Though subtitles might have been necessary for story clarity.

However, that is overlooked in a terrific film.

Year: 2016, DVD release date: 14 February 2017 (North America)

My response: Better one. Experience positive, virtue positive.

Then and now

Most times watching movies it’s about what happens to your soul and mind and even body and spirit in the process of watching something. Personally, I have my virtues, but also my experience in watching movies. The virtues last. The experience fades, but experience was what defined the film for two hours–then. The effect of the movie can be the final judgment on the film despite the experience occurring years ago. One can view the movie through the lens of the past experience of it. For me, virtues may inform experiences. A few movies tend to linger or last in the memory that gives them the mantle of favourites.

 

Zathura: A Space Adventure

Zathura is a 2005 family film starring Josh Hutcherson and Jonah Bobo as the young leads who play brothers and supporting them are Kristen Stewart (as the older sister), Tim Robbins (as Dad) and Dax Shepherd in a comic and serious role as an astronaut. It is an elaborate visual effects-laden game-based fantasy with a message for siblings about working together instead of apart (the parents are divorced and the brothers live with their father).

A game the younger brother finds in the basement somehow comes alive though this is not explained. When playing the game, the house is uprooted, and the brothers are surprised to find they are in deep space. To get back home they aim to keep on playing the game to the end, but they encounter a series of obstacles. For very young children some scenes may be too scary. For this reviewer it was all a bit of a drag. My rating: off-putting.

My response: Lukewarm. Experience negative, virtue positive.

Remixed review

Following on from my summary of Jack the Giant Slayer, here’s my official review:

:

A rather underrated film is the medieval Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), but it delivers a wonderful fantasy experience.

It wasn’t that well received by the reviewers when it was released to theatres, but those in the public who saw it liked it more.

It is about commoner Jack (Nicholas Hoult) saving princess Isabelle (Eleanor Wilkinson) from giants, but he must climb a beanstalk to the land of giants and face all kinds of perils on the way.

This traditional fantasy action story, based on the famous fairy tales Jack and the Beanstalk and Jack the Giant Killer, is well crafted. You’re made to follow this fantasy story closely but from a safe distance, which is a comfortable distance.

You don’t know what is going to happen to whom in scenes of peril.

It’s got recognisable actors in good and villainous roles. Ewan McGregor as the King’s commander and Stanley Tucci as the treacherous Lord Roderick fight it out, whoever is going to win I didn’t know.

A viewer does want their visual effects realistic or believable and this movie delivers that expectation in spades. The world of giants and humans merge seamlessly as if real and the motley giant’s, warts and all, convince me.

Jack must prove his worth when saving the princess and kingdom from the brutal giants. It’s also about chivalry and decency. This film brings back memories of Krull and The Never Ending Story, good old fashioned fantasy that is well done.

My response: Better one. Experience positive, virtue positive.

Rated PG-13 for intense scenes of fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief language

Old fashioned fantasy

A rather underrated film is Jack the Giant Slayer (2013), about a commoner saving a princess from giants, but he has to climb a beanstalk to the land of giants first. It delivers a fantasy experience in spectacle and keeps one involved while keeping a safe distance. You don’t know what is going to happen to whom in scenes of peril. That keeps you in suspense. It’s got recognisable actors in good and villainous roles. It’s about kingdoms and power and it’s a moral tale of good and evil. The visual effects are realistic. This film brings back memories of Krull and The Never Ending Story, good old fashioned fantasy.

My response: Better one. Experience positive, virtue positive.

No worries

The infectious song Don’t Worry, Be Happy by Bobby McFerrin divided people I knew. It caused a problem because worry is what these people do. So it may be this song is liked if you have no worries. But the song is so good people were in denial. On one hand it’s a catchy song, on the other, you may agree with it or not. People would have liked to like it because in the end no one wants to have worries.

Just listening

I don’t like some of the lyrics and messages in album American Teen by Khalid (but I do like some), but I listen to it because it is good production quality. A bottom line for me rating something is what it’s saying and if it jells, but if that does not work, appreciating something for its production is why I may listen.

American Teen

The debut urban contemporary album American Teen, by eighteen year-old artist Khalid, has good production values, but except for the tracks Young, Dumb and Broke and Angels, it may not have enough oomph to hook one in. An interesting, thoughtful expose of teen life, with some material that may be off-putting to some, but rather low-key and too involved to be background music.

Response: Off-putting. Experience negative, virtue overall negative with some positives.