Category Archives: List

My Top 5 movies of 2015

Here are my top 5 movies for 2015:

5. Star Wars: Force Awakens – JJ thank you for re-kindling the excitement for a galaxy far away…

4. Bridges of Spies – This movie marks the return of Steven Spielberg to high form.

3. Inside Out – A brilliant and emotional screen representation of what goes up in our brains.

2. Mad Max: Furry Road – Probably the best action film ever. I was mesmerized not only by its nimble and sharp script but also by the fact that it is a story about redemption that plays against the backdrop of stunning visuals and exhilarating action sequences. Absolutely Brilliant!

1. The Revenant – This movie is an achievement in film making.


 

There are plenty of movies that were release in 2015 that I haven’t seen like Slow West, Creed, Sicario, The Walk, and in the Heart of the Sea among others…I just noticed that The Martian didn’t make my list but it was a fun movie to watch.

5 things I loved about Star Wars: The Force Awakens

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By now most everyone has seen the Force Awakens and the inter web is full of reviews, comments and criticisms. Here are the five things I like the most about Star Wars, soon to be followed by the five things that I didn’t like about it.

1. The Return of the Force as a cultural phenomenon.

In an age of political tensions and tribe mentality it is refreshing to have a cultural icon such as Star Wars once again at the center of our national consciousness.  One thing that really made an impression on me was seeing families together, full of excitement and anticipation to see this movie, from little kids with their parents to teens and adult children…

Star Wars like many old folk tales reminds us that there is a constant struggle between good and evil and that there are things worth fighting for…

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2. The worlds inhabited by the characters

The Force Awakes is a brilliant visual statement that captures the texture and feel of the original trilogy. It imbues a perfect balance between stunning visuals and special effects. It is a great coup for JJ Abraham attention to details and respect for its source material.

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3. John Williams Score

Rey theme is just brilliant…what else can be said from a score made by one of the greatest composer of our time?

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4. The return of Han Solo.

Harrison Ford brought back to life one of the most iconic character in modern cinematic universe with gusto. His performance as Solo made everything else work in the film…even its weak parts.

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 15: (L-R) Actors Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Lupita Nyong'o, Daisy Ridley, director J.J. Abrams of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS and Chairman of the Walt Disney Studios Alan Horn took part today in "Worlds, Galaxies, and Universes: Live Action at The Walt Disney Studios" presentation at Disney's D23 EXPO 2015 in Anaheim, Calif. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

5. The cast

The cast readily complements the script, which is light on its feet, funny and full of thrills. Oh yeah…BB-8 was brilliant!


 What are your favorite things about the Force Awakens?

My top 10 Movies for Lent Part II (5 to 1)

As we approach Holy Week here are my top 5 movies for Lent. I really appreciate Debbie recommendations and the reminder that 1) there are great Christian films out there (like Diary of Country Priest, Courageous, For Greater Glory, Unbroken, The Ten Commandments, The Son of God, Fire Proof and Spielberg monumental classic Schindler’s list among many other) and 2) that this is just a humble and insular list of some of my favorites movie with Christian themes.

For my Top 10 (10 to 5) list clear here.

5. Ben Hur

The sheer epic scale of this movie is worth watching considering that it was made in the pre-digital effect era. I really like how this film intertwines the story of Ben Hur (play by Charlton Heston) and the life of Christ. Although not perfect it’s a movie worth watching….

4. A Man for all Seasons

This movie from the 60’s tells the story of the martyrdom St. Thomas More. It has one of the most beautifully crafted screenplays of all time. One of my favorite dialogues is between The Duke of Norfolk and St. Thomas More:

The Duke of Norfolk:

Oh confound all this. I’m not a scholar, I don’t know whether the marriage was lawful or not but dammit, Thomas, look at these names! Why can’t you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship!

St. Thomas More:

And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your conscience, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

This is brilliant writing! It not only shows the integrity of St. Thomas More’s moral character but also shows the great reverence that this man of faith had for reason and the importance of following once conscience.

Coincidently Robert Bold, an agnostic, wrote the screenplay for this great Christian movie.

3. Into a Great Silence

“In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.”

-Mother Teresa of Calcutta (St. Teresa of Calcutta)

This German documentary is a meditation of God’s love reflected in the life of monks and priest of the Carthusian Order. For more than 900 years men and woman have joined this order to dedicate their life to a life of austerity, silence, contemplation and prayer. The introduction to their order website says it all:

(http://www.chartreux.org/en/)

“Whoever you are, whatever led you to this site, welcome. You will not find anything fashionable, not even a concern for being different”.

“The Carthusians consecrate their lives entirely to prayer and seeking God in the secret of their hearts. They intercede for the Church and for the salvation of the whole world”.

21 years in the making this documentary welcome people from all walks of life to have a look inside this faith filled monastery and walk right into a great silence.

2. Of Gods and Men

What does it means to give your life for others? What does it means to risk martyrdom in order to give witness of Christ love? Most of us will never have to confront these questions but sadly many Christian around the world know very well the answer to these questions. This powerful movie tells the story of French Trappist monks who were martyred in Algeria by Islamic terrorist for not abandoning their community that they served.

1. The Passion of the Christ

Words are not needed to describe Mel Gibson masterpiece. It is simple the greatest movie ever made.

Look at how salvation was nailed to the Cross… How can you keep from crying?

Top 10 Movies for Lent Part I (10 to 5)

We are entering Lent at full altitude now that we are closely approaching the third Sunday of Lent. One of my pet peeve is to find redemptive Christian qualities around me, especially in movies. So I decided to come up with my Top 10 movies to watch during Lent.

Some of the movies that made my list are not necessarily overtly Christian but that does not mean that they aren’t Christian films. I rather think that what make a film a Christian film is its subject matter and its resolution. The list is not an exhaustive list of movies since is restricted to the limited number of films that I have watched.

10. Gran Torino

This is Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece about redemption that showcase one of the best Christ like figure in modern cinema. I was hesitant to include this movie on this list, since it’s crude language but it is not gratuitous but rather serve the plot of the story.

9. Locke

This is Tom Hardy best role to date. This is an engaging account of a man trying to make things right and the consequence of his past sin in his life. I was mesmerized by the brilliance of its screenplay.

8. Up

This is Pixar’s fantastic movie about marriage, family, and old age. What I love about this movie is its portrayal of love and marriage and its reverence to old age.

7. The Kid with a Bike

This is another gem from the Dardenne brothers. The story centers on a kid who is longing for his absent father. It does a great job at showing the value of fatherhood and the consequences of its absence in the life of a young boy.

6. The Mission

Considered by some to be an anti-religious movie an odd statement given that it made the Vatican top list for religious movies. For a great review at visit: http://www.decentfilms.com/reviews/mission

What do you think…any favorite movie that should be included in the top 5?

5 things to know about cancer

I have been greatly touched by friends who have battled cancer over the years. Some are still fighting the good fight others have won it and sadly others lost it. In their memory I hope that this post serves as a general introduction to cancer origin and progression.

1. Cancer is not a single disease.

Cancer is a collection of diseases that are characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and invasion of other tissues. There are more than 100 types of cancer with different levels of aggression and responsiveness to treatment. Thereby there is not a single silver bullet to treat all cancers.

The American Cancer Society

2. Cancer is caused by accumulation of mutations.

The underlying cause of cancer is the accumulation of multiple changes to our genetic code (DNA) referred as mutations. The accumulation of these mutations causes cells to become unresponsive to cell growth-governing functions thus allowing for uncontrolled growth.   Uncontrolled cell growth, in turn, further facilitates the accumulation of other mutations that may cause cancer to develop into more aggressive forms. 

3. Family history and environmental factors can increase risk of cancer.

Family history of cancer and environmental factors such as smoking, heavy drinking and STDs can predispose/cause someone to develop cancer.

Family History

Family history of cancer may be due to a genetic predisposition.  Genetic predisposition refers to an inherited mutation(s) that may predispose someone to develop a disease.

Breast cancer is a classic example of genetic predisposition.  Studies show that in the general population about 12% of women will develop breast cancer at some point, however, it is estimated that between 45% to 65% of woman with a pre-existing mutation will develop breast cancer.  The culprits are the breast cancer related genes BRCA1 and BRCA2.  Both of these genes are involved in DNA damage repair. Mutations in these genes may adversely affect the normal function of these genes allowing for the accumulation of additional mutations that may lead to cancer. Men and woman with mutations in these genes have a greater risk of developing breast cancer.

For more information about BRCA1 and BRCA2 visit:

National Cancer Institude

Environment

Environmental factors may increase the risk of cancer.  Substances that cause mutation that may lead to cancer are called carcinogens.  Exposure to such substance can lead to cancer. A great example is cigarettes smoke. According to the CDC cigarette smoke contains more than 7,000 chemicals, 70 are carcinogens. Over time, the constant exposure to these carcinogens causes the accumulation of mutations that eventually will lead to lung cancer. That is why a smoker is 15 to 30 times more likely to develop lung cancer than a non-smoker.

4. Cancer formation is a multi-stage process that can take decades to develop.

Cancer develops in a multi-step process that can take decades to complete. Thereby most cancers affect people later in life. For example, in order for a cell to become cancerous, it must overcome biological safeguards such as growth control checkpoints and cell-death inducing signals that prevent cancer formation. In addition to these biological safeguards cancer cells must also cope with environmental challenges such as nutrient deprivation and lack of oxygen that restrict their growth and ability to invade other tissues. Moreover, cancer like infectious disease has to evade the immune response.

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Natural selection drives these processes. Natural selection is an evolutionary process in which the fittest individuals are selected; in the case of cancer individuals are cells. Thus, natural selection requires diversity of traits within a population and the selection of those traits that are beneficial. This diversity arises mostly through mutations. Most mutations are either bad or neutral. However, in some rare cases a mutation may give cells an advantage over other non-mutated cells. In cancer, a beneficial mutation translates into the ability to proliferate independently of cell growth inhibitors or the ability to secrete signals that will trigger angiogenesis (blood vessel formation) and allow cells to invade surrounding tissues.

It is thought that early in cancer development cells acquire what is called a “mutator phenotype”. This means that cancer cells acquire new mutations at a faster pace than healthy cells.  This increases the pool of new traits and the chances for a beneficial trait that can enable cancer progression.

5. Cancer treatments are different.

Given that there is not a single type of cancer. Cancers respond differently to cancer therapies. For example, a drug that may be effective treating prostate cancer may not necessarily be effective treating breast cancer or leukemia.

National Cancer Institude
American Cancer Society
MD Anderson Cancer Center

If you have a family history of cancer do not be afraid, talk to your physician. Early detention will greatly improve treatment success. Stop if you are engaging in cancer causing behaviors. Life is worth living to the fullest and cancer is not worth it! If you have been diagnosed with cancer and you are undergoing treatment, please remember the words of Christ:

“Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Mark 9:23

Trust in Jesus! He loves you more than anything in this world and keep the fight!

Please consider supporting cancer research and visit:

Johnny Kicks Cancer Foundation.

God Bless.