Reservoir Dogs Revisited

Quentin Tarantino has a very particular style of movie making.  His plot lines are often times nonlinear, his camera angles tell their own story, and his characters are always well thought out and brilliantly acted.  One of his first feature films to grace the silver screen was Reservoir Dogs and what a film it was.  Plot twists, raw camera filters and fantastic angles, not to mention an extremely fitting soundtrack.  This is what Tarantino would use to set up his tremendous vision of how a film should be shot.

I saw the film for the first time on DVD when I was about twenty-five and fell in love with the film immediately.  It is easily my favorite Tarantino film and tonight, April 27, 2013, the World Theater in Kearney NE showed the film once again on the big screen.  Needless to say, I did not miss the opportunity to see it as it was originally intended to be seen.  A local pizzeria sponsored the film and had special individual pizzas named after some of the main characters, the Mr. Blonde, the Mr. White and the Nice Guy Eddie just to name a few.  This was the perfect movie to see in the theater especially when it’s coupled with a few slices of great pizza and the company of my lovely wife.

Another Misconception

For everyone, friends help them get through times of difficulty and joy.  Some have friends who everyone knows, and some who few people truly know.  Then there are the ones who get a bad rep because of what society deems unacceptable.  I have a friend who, even though we have not known one another as long as some of my other friends, has been a great person and confidant.

He and I write back and forth to each other about different subjects, film project ideas we both have and different events going on.  He has supported my decision to go back to school and finish my degree, he has always been supportive of whatever my wife and I decide for the two of us and our growing family’s future.  He has given me and my son nicknames, and the best thing about his letters, he writes exactly how he speaks, dropping the Gs off of his progressive verbs like “bein” instead of “being”, uses y’all instead of you all, and uses written facial expressions to show mood.  He’s so true to himself in his writing, that in reading the letter, you actually feel as though he’s right there having a conversation with you.

The kid is great, and I say kid only because he is a few years younger than I am, and says he wants to help me teach my son how to play soccer.  He has a son of his own but unfortunately doesn’t get to see him that often, the reason is because he is in a correction facility.

Now the way I described him up until that last entry made him seem like a great guy, and he is.  The problem with our society, and I was guilty of it as well until I met Lynie, is we all consciously or subconsciously label people without really taking the time to know who they are.  We label according to the way people dress, look, their race or gender, their age, and what type of social situation they are in; all types of superficial aspects that often times blindly guide our actions.  So the next time you decide to judge someone, try to think about being more open-minded, I think the world would benefit if everybody did.

Conversation With My Father

Fathers are the typically the ones who teach their children to be tough, typically with tough love.  Mine is no different and sometimes it’s to the point that he and I butt heads.  He is the type of man who has no filter, he says what is on his mind and sometimes at the expense of relationships.  He is difficult to get along with at best and his actions have created friction between he and I on numerous occasions.

However recently I had a conversation that introduced me to a whole new story about his life and the life of his side of my family.

When I was six months old my paternal grandfather passed away from Pancreatic Cancer.  All of my family, including my mother who is now remarried, speak very highly of him and how even when he was really ill would take care of me as a child.  The side of him I never heard in the thirty-one years of my life was that my grandfather was an alcoholic.  He would hide his drinking by spiking his tea with whiskey, or chugging down a beer behind my grandmother’s back so that she wouldn’t know.

My father told my all of this not too long ago as he was explaining why he is the way he is.  He told my that towards the end, everybody in my grandfathers life had decided to intervene and take him to Alcoholics Anonymous.  But when the time came, it was my father driving, my grandmother in the passenger seat and my grandfather slightly intoxicated in the backseat.  My grandfather was mad, he didn’t want to go this was his escape from reality and my grandmother with her giant heart, was devastated it had come to this.  My father knew his father was mad not necessarily at him yet he wasn’t sure.

After my grandfather was sober, he was at the tail end of his battle with cancer and my father recalled one last thing; a conversation he and my grandfather had.  My father said, “Dad you know I love you right?” trying to rectify any hard feelings that had may have sprung up.  My grandfather replied, “Yeah I know you do.”  He and my father had a good relationship from what I understand so this would have been an extremely difficult time for the two of them.

What my father told me after that story will forever stick with me and hopefully mold me as a father myself.  He told me, because his father died before I had the opportunity to know him, my father would not let an opportunity go by to tell his child how much he loved them.  “That is why I’m so hard on you and want you to always apply yourself in whatever you do.”  I now understand what he has been telling me all these years.

An Interview With a Filmmaker (Final Column)

World War II.  Everyone has seen the films about Nazi occupied Europe and the evasive Japanese soldiers who fought in the Pacific.  For most, this is a subject that seems to have been exhausted over the years.   I too was no different, I felt this way until I saw a little known documentary produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting entitled, “West Virginians Remember World War II”.  Directed by Joel Beeson, an associate professor at West Virginia University.  This humble documentary opened my eyes to the more gritty realities of World War II; a story most of us never hear about.

Luckily I was given a chance to speak with Dr. Beeson recently about his experience as a filmmaker.  He told me that he began as a photojournalist, working for the L.A. Times but once the digital age surfaced he moved to video and audio work.  His first film was a half hour film about Willie King’s blues music festival entitled: “Freedom Creek Festival”.

After that, Dr. Beeson focused mainly on telling the stories of World War II veterans and more specifically the stories of African-American vets.  He told me that many of the African-American veterans were cautious to discuss what happened while they were overseas.  For many of them, the segregation was just as worse.  The soldiers were assigned the lowliest jobs.  Jobs consisting cleaning the restroom areas, cooking and cleaning and cleaning in the mess halls, loading and unloading of the ships and transports.  Dr. Beeson explained one gentleman’s experience; a man who at the time was a military police officer and was guarding German P.O.W.s eating at a table.  Both the MPs were African-American, and even though were members of the American military, were not allowed to sit at the same table as the P.O.W.s.

The subjects Beeson has chosen to interview in the film “West Virgians Remember World War II” recount how their lives were before the war and then once fighting broke out in Europe and Japan how the feeling of performing their duty to protect our country and freedom during this awful time felt necessary.  One gentleman recalled his role with the special weapons division and how after the loss so many marines, he stepped up and played a pivotal role fighting the Japanese who were in pillboxes all over the island.  Four men were assigned to keep gun fire on the front of one said pillbox so he could maneuver around and use a flamethrower to clear it out.  He says he received the Metal of Honor but feels that he is just keeping it safe; the real recipients were the two men who gave their lives so that he could do the job he was instructed to do.

These stories, the type of stories that don’t get told, the stories that no one truly knows, these are why Dr. Beeson directs the films he does.  He told me he enjoys the story telling process across the social divide.  Whether it be race, age or differences in experience and discovering why certain individuals tell certain stories.  Building relationships with everyone who he interviews is one of the things he enjoys the most.  Telling the stories he tells keeps what actually happened from being forgotten.  Many of the stories told about the war have been recounted by the officers, men who were Caucasian and leave out details about what the African-American soldiers did to help protect our freedom.  Before Dr. Beeson and I parted ways from our conversation he left me with one final quote; “Until lions have their historians, the hunt will always glorify the hunter” I hope that one day the “Lions” and “Hunters” will share each others stories.

An Interview With a Filmmaker (second draft)

World War II.  Everyone has seen at least one if not multiple films about Nazi occupied Europe and the evasive Japanese soldiers who fought in the Pacific.  The subject seems to have been exhausted, or at least this was the way I thought that I had until I saw a little known documentary produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting entitled, “West Virginians Remember World War II”.  Directed by Joel Beeson, an associate professor at West Virginia University.

I had a chance to speak with Dr. Beeson recently about his experience as a filmmaker.  He told me that he began as a photojournalist, working for the L.A. Times but once the digital age surfaced he moved to video and audio work.  His first film was a half hour film about Willie King’s blues music festival entitled: “Freedom Creek Festival”.

From there Dr. Beeson focused mainly on telling the stories of World War II veterans and more specifically the stories of African-American veterans.  He told me that many of the veterans didn’t want to discuss what happened while they were overseas.  For most the segregation was just as worse, and the soldiers were assigned the dirty work.  Work such as cleaning of the restroom areas, loading and unloading of the ships and transports.  He explained one gentleman’s experience.  This man was a military police officer guarding German P.O.W.s eating at a table.  The MPs, even though were members of the American military, were not allowed to sit at the same table as the P.O.W.s.

The subjects Beeson has chosen to interview in the film “West Virgians Remember World War II” recount how their lives were before the war and then once fighting broke out in Europe and Japan how the feeling of performing their duty to protect our country and freedom during this awful time felt necessary.  One gentleman recalled his role with the special weapons division and how after the loss so many marines, he stepped up and played a pivotal role fighting the Japanese who were in pillboxes all over the island.  Four men were assigned to keep gun fire on the front of one said pillbox so he could maneuver around and use a flamethrower to clear it out.  He says he received the Metal of Honor but feels that he is just keeping it safe; the real recipients were the two men who gave their lives so that he could do the job he was instructed to do.

These stories, the type of stories that don’t get told, the stories that no one truly knows, these are why Dr. Beeson directs the films he does.  He told me he likes the story telling process across the social divide.  Whether it be race, age or differences in experience and discovering why certain individuals tell certain stories.  Building relationships with everyone who he interviews is what he enjoys the most.  Telling the stories he tells keeps what actually happened from being forgotten.  Many of the stories told about the war have been recounted by the officers of the war, officers who were Caucasian and leave out details about what the African-American soldiers did to help protect our freedom.  Dr. Beeson left me with one final quote; “Until lions have their historians, the hunt will always glorify the hunter”.

A Strong Documentary (first draft)

World War II.  Everyone has seen at least one if not multiple films about Nazi occupied Europe and the evasive Japanese soldiers who fought in the Pacific.  The subject seems to have been exhausted, or this was the thought that I had until I saw a little known documentary produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting entitled, “West Virginians Remember World War II”.  Directed by Joel Beeson, an associate professor at West Virginia University, the film’s narrative tells a story that is both informative and very personal.

The subjects Beeson has chosen to interview recount how their lives were before the war and then once fighting broke out in Europe and Japan how the feeling of performing their duty to protect our country and freedom during this awful time felt necessary.  One gentleman recalled his role with the special weapons division and how after the loss so many marines, he stepped up and played a pivotal role fighting the Japanese who were in pillboxes all over the island.  Four men were assigned to keep gun fire on the front of one said pillbox so he could maneuver around and use a flamethrower to clear it out.  He says he received the Metal of Honor but feels that he is just keeping it safe; the real recipients were the two men who gave their lives so that he could do the job he was instructed to do.