Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Rallying Cry to Nerds Across America

It’s been the lament for years. We nerds. True nerds. Not the “I play a video game once in a while and have read a “Harry Potter book” nerds. I mean, real nerds. I’m a nerd. I’m a proud nerd. There’s nothing else I can be. Our people. These nerd people have a proud history. The nerds who lived down the hallway from me at Stony Brook, and tried to hack into my computer, and the guy who lived in the school newspaper office who yelled at his ex girlfriend over the phone that his self published fantasy novels he hawks at local comic book conventions were going to make him rich one day and she was going to be sorry. The people who watch “Star Trek” over “Star Wars” and who knew Wil Wheaton just by name dropping alone. The show “Big Bang Theory” is a hit! Seriously, how many people got that reference on the Big Bang Theory? These nerds. These future millionaires and presidents like Barack Obama, who had a comic book collection as a kid. They are nerds who rant about the stupidest yet also most intelligent subjects, and go to comic book conventions and live a lifestyle that’s unhealthy but probably for the greater good. Space: the final frontier.
You go out and argue in favor of Star Trek and Harry Potter and science fiction and fantasy and science over religion and religions like “Star Trek” that promote science. The only thing missing is a time travel project. We nerds, if we just put together our heads, can come up with a project to travel back in time and right the wrongs that the world has done in the past. Wrongs committed by those who weren’t nerds. We can call the project, “Quantum Leap”, and not only have a better world today but a better world of the past. Just call me Doctor Samuel Becket.
Nerds unite. We are popular now. Nerd J.K. Rowling is a billionaire off writing fantasy books. The nerd icon, ‘Star Trek’ has become a reboot that is a hit. ‘Avatar’ has made nerd James Cameron the king of the world. Nerd Stephanie Meyer writes crappy vampire novels that have made the tween girls who dress up as vampires the Trekkies of tomorrow! Independent films are a multi million-dollar business. YA books are now best sellers. Roger Ebert deserves a second Pulitzer Prize for his blog alone. He hasn’t let cancer stop him. He now talks through a computer like Stephen Hawking.
Everyone considers himself or herself a nerd now. Many who consider themselves nerds aren’t real nerds, but you know deep down in your heart if you’re a real nerd or not. I’m a nerd. I have a blog that’s all movie reviews that are detailed and tell you more about film and other crap that you don’t need to know, really. This is a call to arms. Girls and guys who are considered ‘out of our league’ are rightfully ours. Fathers, who dread what their daughters bring home, relax. They might finally bring home some wimp who’s a nerd instead of a bad boy. The attractive spouses are rightfully ours. Victory will be with us. May the force be with us. It’s perfectly logical, Captain!

Previously published in The New Paltz Oracle.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Don't Mess With Her Son

Three stars

Sure, ‘The Blind Side’ is a bit corny, but the story is ultimately touching for the simple fact it’s a true story. Movies can show us how the world should be, and it’s even better when the story of how the world should be is actually the way the world sometimes is. Based on the book by Michael Lewis, a journalist known for his touching stories dealing with sports, writer/director John Lee Hancock doesn’t do too bad a job of handling the material. Sure, it’s Hollywood and we’ve heard the story a thousand times, but this story is tailor made for a Hollywood movie. It has the right mix of liberal helping out the poor mixed with the conservative image of how good of a heart America can really have. A poor African American kid from the wrong side of the tracks, Michael, gets into a religious school full of upper class white kids.
Michael is played by Quinton Aaron, who does a good job of giving a silent performance. He doesn’t say much. The pain is all in his facial expression. When walking home from school one day in the rain, he is seen by a woman named Leigh Anne Tuohy, who right away asks him where he is going. The gym, he says. The gym is closed, she says. It’s warm, he says back. She right away takes him into their home, and gives him a nice place to sleep. An unrecognizable Tim McGraw, who also turns in a nice performance, plays her husband. The two kids are cute, and the little boy is overly cute like the kid from Jerry Maguire. Though, it’s nice how quickly he cares about his new brother. The movie belongs mostly to Sandra Bullock, in a career changing performance. It’s different than the usual romantic comedies she is known for. She becomes the heroic women who can melt even the most diehard liberal’s heart when she tells a man who threatens her son that she’s a member of the NRA.
They officially adopt Michael and it’s touching to watch them make him a part of their family. The best part is that the Hollywood sappiness this movie provides is excused because it is a true story. Michael thrives, and they get him a tutor (the wonderful Kathy Bates, good in everything) and his grades start to improve. The film wisely keeps to the story between Michael and Leigh Anne Tuohy, and watching her unwavering fight to make a kid who came from nowhere succeed. The football really is a second note in this film. Some might want more sports scenes, but the story is really about making a kid succeed by any means necessary. They want him to succeed, and the whole family gets involved. They truly welcome him into their lives. A wonderful scene is when they are having Thanksgiving dinner and they all gather around the TV set, while Michael goes into the dining room and sits alone. Leigh notices this and quickly moves her entire family into the dining room, so Michael doesn’t have to eat alone.
Some will probably accuse this film of racism. Though, they shouldn’t. The scenes contrasting his life among the inner cities, and his life among a white suburban family are contrasting. Yet, it’s also the reality. In the film, the NCAA decides to investigate if in fact, they somehow drove Michael to attend Old Miss. They question if a lot of white families would start to pick up young black kids and drive them in the direction of a certain school and sport.Would there be something wrong with that? The question I thought to myself, is so what if they did?