Monday, January 5, 2015

"The Interview", worth the hype?

Before we begin, I just want to state that I maintain that the entire thing about Sony being hacked was a publicity hoax.  I don't know who was behind it.  But whoever it was, it worked.  This movie may not gross what it would have in the theaters; but at least it is now being overhyped and will go down in history as having some cult status.

           That having been said, here is what I think.  Worth the hype?  Simple answer, no.

           We all know the premise of the movie.  James Franco and Seth Rogen, the leaders of the millenial Frat Pack, play a team of brain-dead celebrity gossip star and producer.  ::SPOILER ALERT:: After a much hyped episode where Marshall Mathers III came out of the closet, they managed to secure an interview with Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, also known as North Korea.

           The movie makes obvious references to the famous Frost/Nixon interviews.  For those unaware, David Frost was considered a tabloid journalist.  Nixon only agreed to allow the interview because he thought that Frost was going to make it a fluff piece.  But Frost surpassed expectations by actually digging in and playing hardball.  "The Interview" makes many overt references to this.  Oh, the way they make Franco's character an idiot savant--has a way with words, but still lacking not only common sense, but serious knowledge of the facts.

          I was half hoping for some digs at Dennis Rodman as well.  We didn't get those, at least not overtly.  The scene where the reporter and supreme leader play a game of one-on-one probably was a nod to Dennis Rodman's alleging that Kim Jong-Un loves basketball and that if Obama really wanted to, he could just give Kim Jong-Un a call--they both love basketball, so they have what to discuss!

          The characters were definitely endearing.  The plot, on the other hand, was  a bit too trite--something out of the slush pile of a creative writing class in a community college.  If not for the hype surrounding it, this movie would not have stuck with me.  It would have been another "This Is the End" or "Freddy Got Fingered".  Except the latter also happens to be the biggest waste of a movie ticket ever.

          Verdict:  Not Franco/Rogen's best.  Not their worst either.  Has its moments.  Worth watching.  But if not for the hype.....let's just say this Kim Jong-Un is nowhere nearly as diabolical or memorable as Team America's "I'm So Ronery" Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Reincarnation Man

I don't believe in Karma. Never did. Probably never will.

Having dabbled a bit in Eastern philosophy, I think Karma is one of the most misused words in the English lexicon. Many have heard "what goes around comes around" but don't know the original source (Lao Tzu, in case you are curious). But there is a bit more to Karma than that. It is actually a much more intricate concept.

I forget the source. When I was in college, I was reading a piece on concepts that are lost in translation, rendered completely meaningless in other languages. The example was "karma" and "justice."  Justice is as foreign a concept to the Eastern world as Karma is to the Western world. But they both accomplish the same thing. They both embody the same principle of humans getting what they deserve. To use the Jewish terminology, "same Tachlis, different Pe'ulah" (same purpose, different action).

Last week, my mother gave me a box. In the box was some old papers of mine. Letters. Classwork. Assignments. Poems. Pictures. I looked through them. I wrote those things. I recall writing them. But as I read them, I almost didn't recognize my own voice.

It was as if a stranger had once inhabited my body. For all these years, that stranger lived my life. He carried out my human subprocesses. He was my ego. But trapped under that ego was an Atman waiting to get out. The environment I was in trapped this Atman. Restraint after restraint after restraint. They wanted to turn me into someone else.

For all these years, I was doing someone else's Dharma. That someone else would have thrived if only he was in someone else's body. But that someone else was too distant.

Reading these letters makes me more painfully aware of this dissonance.

But most importantly, the key that imprisons Atman is held by only one man: ME.

I am all that stands in the way of my being free.