Showing posts with label Film. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Film. Show all posts

Robin Williams, depression, The Church, and me.

August 12, 2014

I suffer from depression and anxiety.  I thought about the many ways I could begin a post about the loss of Robin Williams and honestly, I think it's just best if I say this out loud: I was clinically diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and adult attention deficit disorder. But more about me in a minute...

Robin Williams killed himself yesterday. If that isn't a wakeup call, I don't know what is.

Depression is a subject that has a stigma to it, even though 1 out of 9 Americans report suffering from it. So why is it such a taboo subject? Why are we afraid to talk about mental health issues?

I am a worship leader and I believe that we in the Church (with a capital C meaning all churches) need to start talking about it. Regularly. 

We need to remove the stigma from mental health issues. People who suffer need to know they are not alone -- that they are not "doing something wrong". They need to know that it's okay to seek out help. And they need to know that it's okay to do more than just pray for healing. God gives us miracles every day through modern medicine.  

Four years ago I decided it was time to do something about my A.D.D.  I had lost a job over it and after leaving another job to pursue music full time I was having a lot of trouble getting anything done at home without the discipline that comes from an actual boss. So, after reading this article in Relevant Magazine, I decided I should go and do something about it. 

I went through a battery of tests and came to find out--and by "find out" I mean, admit--that I have depression and anxiety issues on top of the A.D.D.

And you know what? There is nothing wrong with that. There is nothing wrong with me that can't be taken care of by medicine. Since going on medicine my life is better. It's not perfect and I still have a lot of work to do, but it's better. 

There are still long periods of depression for me. To be even more transparent than I've already been here, I'm in one now.  Often times, the other 8 out of 9 Americans who have never dealt with depression seem to think depression is conditional. So some people might hear me say that I'm depressed and assume it's because one of my heroes died yesterday. It's not. There is a chemical imbalance in my brain that medicine does its best to fix, but it's not always gonna happen.

The medicine does allow me to better cope however. If you take nothing else from this than that, take that. If you are suffering from depression or other mental issues, take it seriously. Take it as seriously as you would a bleeding wound that won't heal and go to the doctor.

I no longer lay in bed and fantasize about not waking up. Yes, that was me a few years ago.  This comes as a shock to people when they hear it from me. They equate that I'm funny with me being happy. I am a funny person. I don't have to be modest about that. It's just a fact. Ask anyone who knows me. I'm frickin' hilarious sometimes. If I didn't have musical ability I might have wanted to be a comedian. But to be honest, being a comedian is a heck of a lot harder. 

And a TON of funny people suffer from depression and other mental issues. That's why we've lost so many of them to suicide and overdoses. Comedic greats like Freddie Prinze, Richard Jeni, and Greg Giraldo all killed themselves. John Belushi, Chris Farley, Mitch Hedberg and others did it accidentally because they tried to cope using drugs that never produced the high that being on a stage making people laugh provided.

And now we add Robin Williams to the list. He was probably my first favorite comedian. The only other stand-up that came close was Bill Cosby. But Robin made me laugh harder. He made me laugh harder than anyone on television. He taught me on Mork and Mindy that, as Time Magazine said yesterday, "weirdness wasn't just o.k.--it was amazing."

Between his movies and his appearances on late night shows from Carson to Letterman to Fallon, he shaped my view of adults. As a grown up I know that it's okay to be silly sometimes and still expect people to take me seriously. I had never thought of it until this very moment, but he really had a great impression on that aspect of my personality.

Taking a cursory glance at Robin's IMDB page, I was amazed to see how many of his movies I not only had seen, but had loved. In fact, I've seen almost all of his movies. I mean, I am a cinephile, but come on...that's pretty rare. Come to think of it, within the past year I've shown my kids Aladdin, Hook, Ferngully, Jumanji, Happy Feet and the first two Night at the Museum films. That's seven movies in one year that my family truly enjoyed. (Yeah, we watch a lot of movies.)

He was like a family member that most of us never had the good fortune to meet. My cousin Jennifer and I have noted on many occasions that as he was getting older, Robin was beginning to look more and more like a Coomer. As I created the artwork above, I could not help but be overwhelmed by that.

There's a reason why there was a point yesterday where most if not all of the top trending topics in the United States on Twitter were based on his death. Robin Williams is a part of our fabric. It's why we (and the news stations) are talking about it so much when there are other things we need to be talking about like Iraq and ISIS and Ferguson, MO. and Israel. But in some it or not, this is more important to us. We've lost someone very near and dear to our hearts.

Two good things can come out of this loss. The first is that we will experience the healing power of laughter as we watch his movies and television appearances again. The top trending Twitter topic as I finish this post is #RobinWilliamsWillLiveOnForever.

The second is that we can begin to talk about depression. We can bring it out into the open. We can destigmatize it, demystify it. And we can begin to heal.

My friend Lindsey's tweet brings me to my final question: "When was the last time I was brave enough to ask (or even lovingly confront) someone about their depression... Or to open up to them about mine?"

How can we be the hands and feet of Christ and reach out to them to let them know we are here, to let them know God is here. How can we be the sign from God that they need? How can we be the butterfly on the cliff from which they're about to jump?

Roger Ebert

April 4, 2013

Roger Ebert made me love the art of film more than I already did.

I admired him so much.

I loved his impassioned reviews of movies he loved and hated. I loved his arguments with Siskel (and Roeper). I loved his yearly Movie Home Companion

I loved that he championed films like Hoop Dreams, which he and Siskel were outraged wasn't nominated for the Academy Award for Documentary Feature. 

Most critics can be taken with a grain of salt, but when Ebert loved a movie -- when he gave it a "BIG thumbs up!" -- it made me want to see it. I always looked forward to his year end lists of best and worst films. 

I remember specifically 1998. It was a year filled with wonderful, groundbreaking, and critically acclaimed movies such as Out of Sight, Life Is Beautiful, Pleasantville, The Truman Show, Rushmore, Saving Private Ryan, American History X, A Simple Plan, A Bug's Life, Pi, The Big Lebowski, etc. etc. But for his top film of the year, Ebert picked a movie no one had heard of called Dark City. It made me want to see it. And when I did I, not surprisingly, fell in love with it. What's more, he so loved the film that he provided a commentary track for the DVD.

One of the things I admire most about Roger Ebert was that when life handed him it handed him manure...he kept on going. He battled cancer with the dignity of a prince. When it took his jaw, he kept making appearances anyway. When it took his voice he found a company that used his DVD commentaries (which also included Citizen Kane and Casablanca) to give his voice to his computer narration system.

Through and through he was a class act. Just yesterday on his blog he wrote "Thank you for being the best readers any film critic could ask for... thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."

Roger died today at 70. He will be greatly missed.

2013 Academy Awards Nominees Available on DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Before the Oscars Air

January 10, 2013

It's been a while since I've posted anything not having to do with my music. So, I thought I'd nerd out and talk about the 2013 Academy Awards nominees. As a movie lover, I grew up watching The Oscars every year and (as far as I remember) haven't missed a single telecast since then. So I get excited and nerdy when it comes to this time of the year. 

2012 was a great year for movies (which is good, because 2011 was not.) So it's no surprise that it's an interesting year for the Academy Awards as well.

Take the Best Actress in a Leading Role category for instance. This category contains the oldest and youngest nominees in its history. Emmanuelle Riva, will turn 86 on the day of the Academy Awards. On the other side of the pendulum, Quvenzhané Wallis, who filmed Beasts of the Southern Wild when she was a mere 6 years old, will be 9 and a half years when the Oscars are handed out.

Riva is nominated for Amour, an Austrian film which received five nominations including Best Picture, the most for any foreign film since Roberto Benigni's Life is Beautiful. If that film is any indicator (and it is) Amour should definitely take home the Oscar for Foreign Language Film.

All of the men in the supporting role category are past winners. So we'll hope for a speech that rivals that of Tom Hanks when he won his second award for Philadelphia, but I'm not holding my breath. All of the actresses on the supporting category are past winners with the exception of Jacki Weaver from Silver Linings Playbook. So let's go ahead and call her underdog of the year.

Argo received seven nominations including Best Picture, Film Editing, and Adapted Screenplay, but director Ben Afleck sadly did not receive a nod. Katherine Hardwick, who was named Best Director for 2008's The Hurt Locker, was also snubbed. Both were nominated for this year's Directors Guild of America Awards. The results of the DGA's, which are voted upon by directors only and will take place February 2, are usually the best indicator for who will take home the Oscar. The Academy decided instead to nominate Michael Haneke for Amour and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

It's always frustrating when the nominees for the previous year's best films come from films that haven't even hit local theaters yet. Thankfully this year is different and many of the nominees are or will be available on Blu-Ray, DVD, or streaming before the Oscars, which will air on February 25.

Below is a list of all the nominees that you can watch at home before the big show. I've included Netflix links for your convenience. Of course, Netflix being Netflix, they may not get these DVDs until well after the Oscars. I've placed them in alphabetical and chronological order, but If you really want to be prepared, your best bet is to watch the films with the most nominations first, and the films in the most important categories (Best Picture, Direction, Acting, Writing) second.

These movies are already available:

These movies are coming soon:

If you want to see the rest of the films before the Oscars, your best bet is to head to your local dollar theatre (if you're lucky enough to have one). The majority of the rest of the films will be out on DVD in March. 

So there you go. Get to work!

DVD Trailer for the Week of Halloween - Event Horizon

October 26, 2009

Event Horizon is one of the most frightening films I've ever seen. It's almost always miscategorized as sci-fi, but this film is horror in the vein of the Alien movies. Before Laurence Fishburne was the captain of The Nebuchadnezzar in The Matrix trilogy, he piloted the The Lewis & Clark on an expedition to find lost ship The Event Horizon. Turns out The Event Horizon is haunted and all they want to do is get off.

If you're looking for a truly scary psychological thriller for the week of Halloween, Event Horizon
(also starring Sam Neill, Joely Richardson, and Richard T. Jones) truly delivers.

Buy it at Amazon
Rent it at Netflix

Ghostbusters 3

October 10, 2009

Who you gonna call? Ghostbusters 3 is coming.

According to Bloody Disgusting (yes, they're reputable), Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver have all confirmed that they will be in a third Ghostbusters film and Ivan Reitman will return as director!

Now that is exciting.

MacGruber the Movie

August 13, 2009

Over the years, Saturday Night Live has produced some great films such as The Blues Brothers and Wayne's World. But, more often than not, SNL has turned some funny recurring sketches into really bad movies such as It's Pat, Stuart Saves His Family, Superstar, and A Night at The Roxbury. Oh and Blues Brothers 2000 and Wayne's World 2. I'll let you decide on Coneheads, Waterboy, and Ladies Man.

So, considering all of the funny sketches SNL has brought to us over the past few years, it is interesting to say the least that the next film to spawn from SNL is none other than Will Forte's MacGruber.

MacGruber is the series of short sketches in which Will Forte plays a MacGyver wannabe who always blows up the building at the end of the sketch. So, how do you make that into a movie?

SNL's Bill Hader talks about it in NY Mag where he reminds us that the characters don't die at the end of each sketch, "They just blow up." When asked how a series of sketches that run in length from thirty seconds to three minutes can become a full length movie, he says, "It's a really funny character. I don't think that's a stretch."

The cast will include Val Kilmer, Ryan Phillipe, and Kristen Wiig. No word yet on whether or not Richard Dean Anderson will appear in the film. We found out on SNL (and on the Super Bowl Pepsi commercial) that MacGyver is MacGruber's dad. Then again, MacGyver died in a MacGruber sketch. Or maybe he just blew up and died later in life.

We'll have to wait to find out. MacGruber the movie is set to release April 16, 2010.

Gentlemen Broncos

August 12, 2009

I'm excited about this one. Gentlemen Broncos comes from Jared Hess, the director of Napoleon Dynamite, and stars Michael Angarano with The Flight of the Conchords' Jemaine Clement. Click the link for more about the movie including a clip. As soon as the trailer is online, you'll see it here. For now, here's the poster.

Gentlemen Broncos comes to theaters on October 30.

S. Darko

March 3, 2009

I love Donnie Darko but I don't know about this. A sequel called S. Darko, named for Donnie's little sister Samantha, is set to release April 28. I think the only actor from the original is Daveigh Chase in the title character role. And the original director/writer/creator Richard Kelley is not involved. The casting of Elizabeth Berkley, star of Saved By the Bell and Showgirls, doesn't make me any more likely to think it will be good. Neither does the fact that there is a character on the film's IMDB page named "Barfing Girl / Waitress". The spiritual aspect intrigues me though. What do you think? Here's the trailer:

I can't tell Javier Bardem and Jeffrey Dean Morgan apart.

March 2, 2009

I won tickets to see a preview of Watchmen tonight. I saw a thing on TV for it and thought Javier Bardem was in it. Nope, it's his doppelganger Jeffrey Dean know, the dead guy from Grey's Anatomy?

Apparently I'm not the only one.

Beliefnet Film Awards

February 25, 2009

This year's winners include Wall-E, Gran Torino, Slumdog Millionaire and Dark Night.

See the list here.

It would have been interesting if they had strayed away from a strictly Oscar-esque group of films.

For instance, I just watched a film called Henry Poole Is Here starring Luke Wilson. The film centers around a dying man whose house becomes a bit of a spiritual landmark when the image of Christ appears on the side of his house.

Check out the trailer below:

My favorite line from Tropic Thunder

February 23, 2009

It wasn't from the movie itself. I loved the movie but for some reason I laughed hardest at a line from the fake behind the scenes stuff on the special features disc. When Robert Downey Jr.'s character Kirk Lazarus slips into a bizarre hysteria. He and a few others from the film play what he calls "Barbecue Night Tactical Grape Soda Learning Games".

Okay, I know. You're thinking, "Eric, that's not funny. I don't get it." Yep, I know. Maybe you had to be there. I mean, go rent the thing.

P.S. I'm mostly writing this post because when I searched "Barbeque Night Tactical Grape Soda Learning Games" after watching the DVD, nothing came up.

Oscar on DVD

January 22, 2009

It's that time of the year. The nominees for the 81st annual Academy Awards were announced in the wee hours of this morning. But in the current economic climate, who can afford to go to the theater these days? The Oscars will be handed out on February 22. So, there's time to catch up on DVD. Here are the nominees already available:
  1. Dark Knight

  2. Tropic Thunder

  3. All the animated films (Kung Fu Panda, Wall-E, Bolt)

  4. The Visitor

    This is a great movie you may not have seen.

    Although all of the acting in this film is stellar, The Visitor's lone nomination is for Richard Jenkins as best actor. While definitely deserving of the nomination, he will most likely be beaten by The Wrestler's Mickey Rourke.

  5. Iron Man (Sound Editing / Visual Effects)

  6. The Duchess (Costume Design)

  7. Encounters at the End of the World (Documentary)

  8. Man on Wire (Documentary)

    You can watch it on demand at Netflix.

  9. Wanted (Sound Editing / Mixing)

  10. In Bruges (Original Screenplay)

  11. Vicky Cristina Barcelona (Supporting Actress for Penelope Cruz) - January 27

  12. Frozen River (Actress, Original Screenplay) - February 10

  13. Changeling - February 17

  1. Australia (Costume Design) - March 10

  2. Happy-Go-Lucky (Original Screenplay)
    - March 10

  3. Rachel Getting Married (Lead Actress - Anne Hathaway) - March 17
As far as I can tell that's it for now.

None of the best picture nominees or nominees for foreign film are available on DVD. You can count on the studios to announce more release dates over the next few weeks.

Showbiz Pizza Band

December 3, 2008

It's weird. I was just talking about how the band from Showbiz Pizza was so much better than the one from Chuck E. Cheese's.

And now there is a movie about it!

Here's the trailer:

I was watching an interview on Carson Daly with a man who named Chris Thrash who, after purchasing the Showbiz Pizza Rock-afire Explosion Band, taught himself to program the animatronic band to lip-sync and play in time (complete with instrument solos) to current songs. By doing so he became an enormous sensation on YouTube.

You can watch the entire interview here:

The band MGMT recently asked Chris to program one of their songs for a video. On behalf of KNAPSACKHEROES! I am quite jealous. You can check out the MGMT video here. And there are more videos here.

If you're not a child of the 80s you may not be as excited about this as I am but I figured it's interesting anyway.

The Temptations

May 28, 2008

There's a movie about The Temptations on VH1 right now. It has the rather original title The Temptations. I was flipping through the channels while feeding Jackson and left it on because I liked the song that was playing and thought Jackson would as well. I was right (he has good taste). I've ended up listening to the movie from around the house and I don't think I realized how many unbelievably great songs came from them! I'm going to have to buy some of their music.

As far as the movie goes, well it's your typical rags to riches- band gets big and goes through drug and alcohol addictions, ego problems, band personnel changes, blah blah rockumentary style drama with bad lip syncing. But honestly, even though I'm not technically watching it closely enough to really know the plot, I'd recommend it at least for the music.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall

April 26, 2008

Daphne and I don't get to the theater much any more so it was a fun day today as we went to see Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I was unpleasantly surprised to find that ticket prices have once again risen - this time to a whopping $9.50 each!

Anyway, it's a very funny movie, the script was very well written by star (and Freaks and Geeks alum) Jason Segel, and the cast is excellent.

I previously had thought it might enter my favorite funny films of all time. I don't really think so but there are definitely many laugh out loud moments.

It's certainly not for the faint of heart and whole-heartedly earned its R rating. As you may have heard by now, Jason shows off his full monty more than once in the film.

All told, I'm not sure it was worth the nineteen-stinking-dollars we spent (not really sure anything is in these days of surround sound and large screen hi-def televisions), but it was definitely worth seeing.