Logan–No Spoiler Review

logan2Last night we watched Logan. We made a horrible mistake by watching the late showing because the theater was filled with rude teenagers. I need to watch my movies when the other old people watch them–in daylight hours!

The movie was very good. In trying to organize my thoughts, it is perhaps best that I just make a list.

1. The movie earned its “R” rating.

The violence is brutal. In other X-Men movies Wolverine tends to go for chest kills, but I’d say ninety percent of his kills here are either decapitations or head shots. The violence is comparable to a slasher horror film or the first thirty minutes of Saving Private Ryan. Seeing young children engage in violent activity was also disturbing to me.

The language is also strong. I think this is one of the weakest points of the film. The writers use F-bombs galore to communicate despair, anger, disappointment, and power. Smarter writing could have done that without resorting to this tactic. By contrast, other X-Men films have used strong language sparingly, which makes it more effective. The movie also has a rather gratuitous flashing of boobies.

2. The movie is not a super-hero movie.

If you come into this film expecting typical superhero fare, you’ll leave disappointed (like I think most of the teenagers we saw it with) because it is not that kind of movie. It is not about saving the world or even saving the day. The movie is about aging, dying, and the pain of regret as a person works through the knowledge they are past their prime. Logan’s character moves from one who has given up to one is faced with continuing to despair or to make a difference.

3. I loved the homages.

There are two specific homages that caught my attention. First, the use of X-Men comic books as as storyline was brilliant. These are not real world comics, but invented comics (as I understand it) for the movie universe. That X-Men comics exist in the X-Men universe is awesome. I perceive it to be a stand in for all the previous movies, with the hint that those stories were glamorized versions of what ‘really’ happened. This movie pretends to let us behind the curtain to see the nitty gritty of who these characters really are, the price they paid, and the tragedy of their existence.

The second homage is to the old western “Shane.” In fact, there are several scenes that reminds me of that old movie, besides the two overt references. One is a precious seen midway through the movie in a hotel room and the other is at the very end. I remember watching that movie with my grandmother many years ago, and I am remember showing it my daughters. They argued with me for days as to whether or not Shane died as he rode away. Of course he did.

4. The religious imagery is off the charts.

Despite its well earned “R” rating, the movie has intense spiritual references and imagery. In many ways Logan’s character is one who has lost his faith, and Professor X is the one who, despite his own difficulties, has been tasked with helping him on that journey. Woven into this tapestry of faith questions is the lingering mutant question–have human beings tampered with God’s creation so much that we have negated something he intended? In this scenario, mutants perhaps stand in as a metaphor for diversity and pluralism whereas corporations and governments seek to enforce uniformity and conformity.

Part of this is the title credits. Hang out and listen to the Johnny Cash song “The Man Comes Around” which is a very Christian song about the apocalypse. I expected the other Johnny Cash song, “Hurt” based on the trailer (which I have embedded below) but this was even more delightful.

5. Patrick Stewart might be nominated for Best Supporting Actor for this role.

Stewart is like wine and cheese. He gets better with age. To me he will always be Captain Picard. His best turn ever is The Inner Light, but here he is amazing. Uncanny, even.

6. There are may themes buried into this movie.

Look for generational change, cultural degradation,lawlessness, corporate oligarchy, immigration, lost childhood, genetic testing, GMO, and child exploitation. There are others, but these stand out. Usually in a movie this many subplots is pollution on the brain, but in Logan it works.

I think there is at least one more theme in addition to these. That theme is reconciliation. Logan must reconcile–with Charles, with himself, with the X-Men, and with his fate.

WRITING PLAYLISTS

I’ve had several exchanges with folks on the twitterverse and interwebs lately about their writing playlist.  I’ve come to the conclusion that music, and what kind of music, helps me write.

Old Blue Eyes Is A Muse
Old Blue Eyes Is A Muse

The most important thing about a writing playlist is that it should be something I’m familiar with.  If my mind is focusing on the music or the lyrics, then my mind is not engaged in the work of writing.  That is why streaming music or listening to NPR doesn’t work for me when writing.  It has to be older stuff I’ve heard a million times.  So here goes some of my writing playlists.

Dialogue (generic)–Something instrumental.  For generic dialogue I don’t need words in my mind as I’m trying to find out what my characters are saying to each other.  I don’t want my characters quoting George Jones or Jimi Hendrix.  Classical is okay, but so too is blues and jazz.  Green Onions by Booker T. & The M.G.’s is excellent to just loop over and over until the scene is written.  Yo-Yo Ma is great for this too.

Dialogue (intense/arguing)–Church hymns.  I don’t know why, but something about church music makes me think about arguing.  Let the reader understand.

Dialogue (internal)–When I am thinking about what another person is thinking there is only one authority:   Johnny Cash.

Theological Themes--Pastor Butch Gregory stories always have theological themes, and for that I need to listen to Rich Mullins.

Dream Sequences/Flashbacks–Norah Jones, because she just sounds so dreamy.

Crime/Violence–I’ve got a playlist I call “War/Spy” that has a heavy dose of Talking Heads, James Bond theme songs, Blondie, U2, Hall and Oates, and Mumford and Sons.  I know that doesn’t make a lot of since genre wise, but it does to me.

Fight Scenes–Guns-N-Roses.  It is important to know where you are.  You’re in the jungle baby.

Travel Scenes–I’ve found that my characters seem to always be traveling somewhere, and when they do, Led Zeppelin Rambles along.

Plot Development–Frank Sinatra.  I’ve got him under my skin.

Romantic Scenes–I don’t put a lot of romance in my books, but when I do, I prefer Cole Porter.

Techno–While writing sci-fi, sometimes I need to describe technological things which may or may not be real, but which are technological.  There are two groups that help me with this.  One is R.E.M.  I mean, Michael Stipe may actually be a character from a sci-fi novel.  The other is ZZ Top.  In my universe(s), all megalomaniac evil scientists wear cheap sunglasses.

Michael Stipe, SCI-FI
Michael Stipe, SCI-FI

When In Doubt–Sometimes you don’t know what is going to flow out of the fingertips, and when that happens I hit an 80s mix.  Duran Duran always gets the creative reflex going.

There are a lot of other artists and genre’s I listen to, but these are the ones that most often find their way into my ear bud while writing.  I’d be interested to know what you listen to when you write.

images from therecordingrevolution.com and aleim.com

A MOCK ZIMBIO BIBLE CHARACTER QUIZ

The Facebooks and Interwebs are being invaded by the Zimbio and Buzzfeed quiz armies.  I wrote about these on Monday and hypothesized that there should be a Zimbio Bible character quiz.  More than one person suggested that I should write some of the questions for this much needed quiz.  Okay, challenge accepted.

I’m only doing 5, though, because it is a lot of work coming up with 12 useless, apparently unrelated-to-anything questions with both obscure and obvious references.  However, I already did one just off the cuff in reply to an earlier comment on Monday’s blog so, 20% was done.  Feel free to add questions of your own in the comments, but just make sure that every question needs at least 9 possible answers to from which to choose.

Question One:  Which Johnny Cash Song are you?

Johnny Cash Holding a Kitty Cat
Johnny Cash Holding a Kitty Cat
  • Folsom Prison Blues
  • Ring of Fire
  • I Walk the Line
  • I’ve Been Everywhere
  • God’s Gonna Cut you Down
  • A Boy Named Sue
  • Riders in the Sky
  • Peace in the Valley
  • One (Yeah, he did a cover of that)

Question Two:  Your preferred Bible translation is . . .

  • King James
  • New King James
  • NIV
  • NASB
  • Dead Sea Scrolls, of course
  • The Message
  • Codex Sinaiticus
  • NRSV
  • NET Bible

Question Three:  Which classic literary character do you most identify with?

  • David Copperfield
  • Dr. Frankenstein
  • Achilles
  • Hamlet
  • Juliet
  • Janey Eyre
  • I don’t understand the question
  • The Wife of Bath
  • Nick Adams

Question Four:  You love which of these groups the most?

  • Mumford & Sons
  • Lady Antebellum
  • The Rolling Stones
  • INXS
  • The Gaitlin Brothers
  • U2
  • Imagine Dragons
  • Booker T. & the M. G.’s
  • Alabama

Question Five:  You see a bush that is burning, but it is not consumed.  What do you do?

  • Run
  • Find a waterhose
  • Write a memoir about what it means
  • Approach it
  • Find a cave to hide in
  • Take a picture
  • Attempt to take measurements–temperature, size, color
  • Blow on it
  • Set yourself on fire

Okay, so those are my five questions.  Let’s see what you guys come up with.

picture of Johnny cash from reddit.com