It was something of a surprise to learn that San Bernadino’s most famous resident is none other than the accomplished film actor Gene Hackman, now retired from the big screen. He hasn’t made a film in nearly a decade and is likely finished with movies. In other words, he’s likely made his last film. Hackman was born in San Bernadino back in 1930. That makes Hackman age 85, as of today.
A blockbuster movie was recently released, in which a heavily-armed, highly-trained maniacal loner with no apparent friends nor familial attachments murders a heap of people during the course of his 2-hour, 34 minute onscreen presence. Dozens of hard-working, loyal private and public employees, many with families and children of their own, are shot, maimed, burned, crushed, and blown apart in order to satisfy the killer’s bloodthirsty cravings.
The killer disrupts daily life and creates chaos in several scenic locales — including Mexico City, Rome, Tangiers, London, the Sahara Desert, and the Austrian Alps. Hundreds of millions of dollars in property damage occurs, instigated entirely by a series of confrontations which lead to non-stop violence, and ultimately death and destruction.
Unperturbed by potential criticism, the star also proves to be a serial adulterer. Young and old, of any race — his wanton lust knows no boundaries. His sexual conquests include a mournful widow on the night of her deceased husband’s funeral, after stalking her back to her home after the burial. He beds the weeping lass making her forget her loss momentarily, and then afterward never once calls her back. What a dog. The creep is frequently observed hiding off in the darkness, peering around corners, and trespassing into areas where women sleep. If he were not wearing a tuxedo, one might suspect he was a peeping tom.
Steven Spielberg has become the quintessential film director of our time in bringing history to life. Several of his movies, based on actual events, take place in the past. But the consistent themes of humanitarianism and emotional sentiment that his very best films have managed to evoke in audiences worldwide remains just as apropos to our present and future.
The cinematic artisan who gave us indelibly moving reenactments of the Holocaust (“Schindler’s List,” which I rank as the best film ever made), the D-Day invasion (“Saving Private Ryan”), the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games (“Munich”), and a post-American Civil War political crisis (“Lincoln”), most recently has undertaken one of lesser-known flash points of the Cold War.
All those descriptions (and then some) fit Steve Jobs. In spite of, and to some degree due to his premature death in 2011, he endures as both a metamorphic icon and a cultural myth. Jobs’ unbridled energy combined with his uncompromising ingenuity led to a transformation in how the world works and plays — be it on iMacs or iPods, iPhones or iPods, or Macintosh desktops and laptops. But for all his cutting-edge high-tech marvels and toys, which included a number of failures along the way, it was Jobs’ grandiose, almost naive idealistic vision of our world — that technology should serve humanity rather than the other way around — which has become his everlasting legacy. Arguably, Jobs transformed the daily lives of more people, in more ways, than anyone who’s lived since Thomas Edison.
Leering over my keyboard while attempting to write a movie review of “The Martian,” one senses the same confusion upon gazing at the controls a spaceship.
One isn’t sure exactly which button to push or what lever to pull.
Undoubtedly, this big-budget science-fiction thriller is destined to become one of the year’s blockbuster mega-hits. That’s because it has simply too many things going for it — an innovative film director, cool special effects, patriotic themes throughout, popular movie stars, and the requisite 3-D viewing experience, which is now imperative in attracting a younger generation of moviegoers with the collective attention span of a fidgety toddler posing for a baby photographer. But gadgetry doesn’t necessarily make “The Martian” anywhere close to being a great, nor even a good film. Actually, it’s pretty mediocre. I’ve been on airplane rides that were more suspenseful. Anyone who’s booked a ticket on Spirit knows exactly what I’m talking about.