An Old Man Filled With Regret: Men, Masculinity, and Atonement

Saito: Do you want to take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone!  

-Inception

Related image

In the movie Inception, this is a mantra shared between two  of the primary characters, Saito and Cobb. At the beginning of the film Saito asks Cobb if he wants to take a leap of faith, or die an old man filled with regret, and that question is enough to move Cobb to accept his offer. He is asking for Cobb’s trust because the two of them need each other. This is paralleled at the end of the movie, when Cobb repeats these words back to Saito.

Dying old, alone, and filed with regrets is the nightmare scenario  of the Action and Western film genres, as ex- killers, full of the guilt and shame of what they’ve done, seek redemption through killing for a good cause. This can take the form of revenge for a life lost, or the saving of a life that has meaning to them. Some of  its most famous incarnations are William Munny from Clint Eastwood’s 1992  movie, The Unforgiven, Robert McCall from the 2018 Equalizer franchise, Walt Kowalski from the 2008  Gran Turino, the 2017 Logan, Liam Neeson’s Taken trilogy,  John Creasy, from the 2004 version of  Man On Fire, and the 1953 Shane, starring Alan Ladd.

Related image

Movie history is full of old men,  filled with the regrets, waiting to die alone, until something, or someone, moves them enough to risk coming out of retirement, often to attempt atonement for their past misdeeds. These are men beset with trauma. They are damaged killers who have committed questionable behavior.. Because of that, they are emotionally disconnected from other people, and sometimes  from themselves, until fate provides one last opportunity for personal connection, that gets taken from them. Often the person they’re trying to save is a stand in for their more innocent self, which is why this is often a child. The child is a stand-in for their lost innocence ,so in saving that person, the killer can symbolically save their former self.

Taking a leap of faith to form that emotional connection is the key. Often the former killers have locked themselves away from personal connections, feeling that they do not deserve to have love, or trust, or any human attachment, because they are bad men, who have done horrible things. They believe they are separate from the rest of humanity, and that they are unworthy of being a part of it, until someone (often a child) makes them realize there may be hope for them after all, and that they are not irredeemable.The child’s love and trust is a sign that they are salvageable. That they are “good  “men.  An innocent’s hand is offered to them, and they can take that leap of faith, one of the bravest acts a person can perform, or they can continue to dwell in their emotional abyss, and die alone, and unloved.

Related image

Sometimes it is the innocent’s belief that the main character is a good person who will save them, that is enough to spur them into action. This is the basic plot of the 1953 movie, Shane, which is heavily paralleled, and referenced, in the 2017 movie, Logan, although the outcomes of these movies are very different. In Shane, Joey is a little boy who is drawn to Shane and idolizes his lifestyle as a gunslinger. In Logan, Laura is Logan’s genetic daughter, who idolizes his life as a comic book hero.

At the end of some of these movies, the ex-killer must go into exile, because they feel they cannot live with “normal “people. Alan Ladd plays a gunslinger who wants to retire from killing, to  become a farmer, but is called back into battle, when the woman and child he comes to care for, are endangered by an unscrupulous land baron. The townsfolk know he is a killer, but they look up to him, and think of him as heroic, but at the end of the movie, Shane cannot live in the valley with the farmers. He leaves because he feels he does not deserve to live a life of peace among normal people. He is a killer and is not the type of man who can live with people who have never lived that lifestyle, because he is too corrupt. Sacrificing the life he hoped to have is his punishment for having taken up the violence he’d previously rejected.

In the movie Serenity, the Assassin sent by the Council to collect River Tam, says that he kills to make a better world, but he knows he will never be allowed to live in that better world, because such a world has no place in it for the corruption he represents, and this is Shane’s predicament.

More often, at the end of these stories, the killers must die, because that is the price for having  picked up the sword again, although they are often happy to die, because they killed (and died) for a good reason, rather than whatever reasons they  feel regretful for. Many of them were ruthless killers in the  past, killing people for money, sport, or war. Some of these characters share more than a passing resemblance to the men they are trying to kill, because these bad men represent their past selves, and in killing them, they destroy their own evil past,  and can die at peace, knowing they did at least one “good” thing before they died.

Related image

In Logan, the Wolverine has “retired” from a life of killing. He isn’t The Wolverine any more, and no longer “saves” people, but he is forced back onto the killing  field, to protect the “daughter”, to whom he has become emotionally attached. He dies in Laura’s arms, having redeemed himself for, as he once said, “…being the best there is at what I do.” Throughout his long life Logan had been the personification of death, relentless, inevitable, and unstoppable, as we see in the scene in the hotel, when Logan kills an entire room of armed men to save Charles Xavier. Logan also encounters a  younger, stronger, and more ruthless version of himself, that was made from his DNA. Logan must  literally kill his evil, past self, only then can he die at peace.

Image result for logan movie gifs

 

In Man on Fire, Denzel Washington plays John Creasy, a former government assassin, who is so haunted by his past deeds that he has become suicidal. He has killed a lot of people in service to his country, feeling shame,  guilt, remorse, believing himself a monster, but  his soul is saved when  he falls in love with a little girl he was hired to protect. When Lupita’s life is endangered, he comes out of retirement, and uses his former killing skills to take revenge on the people who took away his one chance at happiness. Lupita entered his life as a reward for giving up his old one, showing  him that it was okay for him to live and love again

Related image

 

For Creasy, Lupita’s love is a sign that he is worth saving, and that he is a good man. Her unconditional love and trust redeems him. When she is taken from him, he has the option of letting it go, and walking away, but  without Lupita there can be no redemption, and if he is going to die, then he wishes to do so in a blaze of glory, punishing the men who took his life, both literally and figuratively. In the end, rescuing Lupita from her captors will be his atonement for a life of sin, but his death is the price  he must pay for killing again, no matter how deserving his victims, or righteous his cause.

Related image

During the movie Creasy has several conversations with his friend Rayburn, and with one of Lupita’s teachers, on the nature of sin ,and atonement. He asks Rayburn if he thinks God will forgive them for the things they’ve done, and he tells Lupita’s teacher that he was the sheep that got lost, when she asks if he sees the hand of God in what he does, quoting  the scripture: ‘Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with goodness.’ In Creasy’s final killing spree, he  is righteousness personified. He has become the hand of God, a Christlike figure, (even to the point of having a stigmata like wound in his side), who once saw nothing good in his ability to ruthlessly  take lives.The man who, early in the film, wanted to take his own life, willingly sacrifices that life to save his chosen daughter.

In the movie The Unforgiven William Munny, a famous gunslinger, has retired to a country life, but he is goaded back onto the stage when a young man who idolizes him, puts his life in danger by trying to emulate him. In The Dark Tower, Roland Deschain, the famous Gunslinger of Eld, has given up hunting The Man in Black, until he is pulled from “retirement” by a young boy he befriends, whose life is endangered by the MIB. In the movie John Wick, however, the spur out of retirement is the death of his dog, (the last remembrance of his late wife), caused by a local mobster’s son who came to rob his house. The dog is his last link to his old peaceful life, and with it gone, there is no point to trying to live peacefully. Like John Creasy, he aims to go out in a blaze of glory to avenge his wife’s memory.

If these men are lucky, they get to ride off into the sunset, but that is no relief either, as they may yet die in their beds, as old men filled with regret, but more often than not, there is a price to be paid for picking up weapons and taking lives again. They must sacrifice their life for taking up a lifestyle they’d rejected, and this is seen by these men as better than dying alone, and unloved, regretting all the evil they’d done.

“Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.” 
― Harvey MacKay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

New Trailers! YIPPEEEE!!!!!!

Here are a few of the new trailers I was waiting to get a look at when I did my watchlist last year. I waited so I could collect all of them in one post. I’m very excited about a couple of these (and a couple of surprises) and just wanted share my love:

 

John Wick 3

Why yes, I am a John Wick fan. I consider these to be some of Keanu’s best action films ever. This franchise just fits him so well. I actually got my Mom to watch the first movie, which she seemed to enjoy, even though she said it was a crazy movie, and was upset about the dog. And this next movie in the trilogy looks hella fun. In the last movie John broke some rules which had him being hunted by the assassin’s guild of which he was once a member. I’m here just to watch Keanu Reeves riding horseback though.

 

 

Umbrella Academy

OH!!!, this looks like so much fun! I like the characters already, and I was always a fan of Ellen Page.  I did read the comic books, (although it was a long time ago) but  I’ve been a Gerard Way fan ever since. (He also wrote Spidergeddon, and Doom Patrol for a while.). And yes, that is indeed a monkey in the second part of the trailer. I sort of remember that from the books. This is airing on Netflix on February 15th.

 

 

Little

This movie is so cute. Normally, I’m not a fan of movies where adults exchange places with children, because they are usually done so badly, but I did like the Tom Hanks movie, which is the opposite of this one, called BIG. I just love the little actress here, and I’m a fan of Issa Rae, and I think the trailer is pretty funny.  I have plans to take my 13 year old niece to see this, becasue the young lady in the movie helped produce it, and hired a female director, and writers, to work on the  film.. She has the distinction of being the youngest producer in Hollywood.  I don’t normally go see comedies, but I’ll take this over the next Madea movie my family forces me to go see.

 

 

Spiderman: Far From Home 

I was already excited about this movie because I actually am a Spiderman fan, and the addition of Mysterio just clinched it. Now, to find out that the movie does indeed take place far from home, and that Aunt May is also on board the Spiderman train, (and she and Happy appear to be making some kind of love connection, which is not anything like in the comic books), well I am here for it.

And yeah, I think MJ (Michelle) has always known that Peter is Spiderman. Go back and watch the first movie. Whenever Peter and Ned are discussing Spiderman in public, she always seems to be nearby, (also Peter and Ned lack the ability to whisper), and I’m pretty sure she recognized Peter as Spiderman when the class visited Washington. But that’s a topic for another post, so here we go:

 

 

 

Polar

I don’t know, this looks like a total ripoff of John Wick, but I don’t care because its on Netflix, and it stars Mads Mikkelson as a total badass, which is always fun. I’m always up for watching movies about assassins, for some reason. This is airing today on Netflix.

Weekend Reading Assignments

Here I am, providing you guys with some enjoyable, and enlightening, reading material for the weekend. This should tide you over, until I make a post about something a little more substantial, Monday.

 

*This post is about one of my favorite action series, John Wick, and how it compares to the action films of the 80s.

At one point or another, every major movie site gets around to detailing  the collapse of the modern action movie star. Gone are the bulked up action stars of the eighties who could sell a fight sequence just by looking the part of a demi-god. Gone too are the slow-motion gunfights and myriad of squibs that contemporized the gunfight. In an era where the studio is the star and special effects are limited only by the imagination of those coding them, there isn’t a lot of room for standouts and signature styles.

From: https://wordpress.com/post/tvgeekingout.wordpress.com/57342

Continue reading “Weekend Reading Assignments”

Forthcoming Movies 2017

This is a  somewhat premature list of the movies I’m most interested in  next year. Unfortunately, Black Panther isn’t coming out next year, so it’s not on this list ,although Star Wars 8 is being released, so that’s cool.

My big thing next year is the new Wolverine movie titled Logan. I love the trailer for this movie, and I enjoyed the Old man Logan series. I’m also a big fan of Wolverine’s kids, Daken and X-23, so this movie is a big yes for me, even though I don’t think Daken is in it because he is very openly gay, and the MCU is as allergic to gay representation,  as it is to positive Asian representation.

My second big yippee! is Luc Besson’s Valerian. I’ve seen every one  of Besson’s films since La Femme Nikita in 1990, and if you haven’t seen that, you need to get right on it, as it still holds up as a female lead action movie. Valerian looks like its going to be too much fun.

January

Hidden Figures –

I like the idea of telling Black stories that don’t involve us being tortured by White people. Also, I love Black women in Science.

A Monster Calls –

I probably won’t go see this because just the trailer brought me to tears. I’m going to be a blubbering mess in a theater.

Underworld: Blood Wars

I think everything that would’ve been said about Selene’s story was told in the first movie. I have completely lost any interest in this character.

Monster Trucks

I think this movie is supposed to be fun, but the monster in the truck just looks terrifying.

X3: Xander Cage –

The XXX movies are very possibly the funniest, most ridiculous stunt movies ever made. It’s hard not believe this  isn’t a parody.

Resident Evil: The FInal Chapter –

Hmmmmm! No!

I had no particular plans to see any of these movies in January, but I thought I’d list them just in case any of you were interested and I was trying to look fair by showing the trailers.

Psych! I’m not seeing any of these until they’re officially on DVD, approximately five days after their release.

February

Rings –

A mashup of Ju-On and The Ring

John Wick II –

This looks as much fun as the original.

The Great Wall –

Nope! Its got dragons in it but I really don’t feel like looking at Matt Damon’s face again so soon after I’ve  watched Jason Bourne.

Get Out – This looks hilarious in a Dave Chappelle kind of way.

Of these five movies, I only plan to see Get Out, which is a movie produced and directed by the creators of Key& Peele.  I love that show, so I’m highly interested in the movie.

I loved the first John Wick, and I wasn’t expecting to. I thought it would be a typical, middle-of-the-road, action flick, but it turned out to be okay, and more than a little fun. Keanu Reeves is playing a character that perfectly suits him.

I wouldn’t piss on that Great Wall movie if you paid me. I’m getting a little tired of Hollywood not letting Asians be the stars of their own stories, and quite frankly its starting to look more than a little  creepy that that’s what Hollywood is doing, even to people who don’t normally pay attention to that kind of stuff.

I’m going to ignore the existence of Rings. Just the thought of it is scary. We really don’t need a mashup of Ju-On and The Ring. Well, I don’t, but if you like that sort of thing,  Happy Screaming to You!

March

Logan –

I love this trailer. Johnny Cash songs get me every time.

Kong of Skull Island –

I wouldn’t normally care about this except Samuel L. Jackson and Tom Hiddleston are back together again, and it looks like it takes place entirely on the island, and that Kong appears to be winning.

Beauty and the Beast –

I’ll just stick with the animated version, mostly for the music. “Be Our Guest” is one of my favorite Disney songs ,of all time, so there’s nothing this movie could offer me that would top that entire sequence.

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword – ?

Power Rangers –

Back down memory lane, y’all! I used to watch this  ridiculous show with my little sisters. This looks waaay better than the TV show. I may take my niece to see this if she’s amenable.

Ghost in the Shell –

A big ol’ fat NO! I’ll just watch the original anime. The trailer doesn’t make me want to see this, and I’m  really tired of looking at Scarlett Johansen.

The standout movie for this month will be Logan.

April

Fast 8 – I’m only just getting into this franchise. I kinda liked the last two movies, and its got a very colorful cast, who all seem to like each other and get along well.

Lost City of Z – I read this book some time ago, and I’m a sucker for movies set in Jungles. I don’t know why.

May

The Autopsy of Jane Doe –

Looks intriguing. I won’t see it in the  theater but I will wait for the DVD.

Guardians of the Galaxy II –

My niece will definitely talk me into going to see this movie, so I really don’t have a choice about this, if I want to have peace in the house. (And I love Groot too, so…)

Pirates of the Caribbean #23 –

Whah?

Baywatch – Okay, I’ll bite. Why would I want to see this movie about a TV show that I loathed? Okay, other than the nice pecs?

June

Wonder Woman –

Naaw! I’m good.

The Mummy – But not that good, apparently. I could be talked into this one by a wayward relative.

World War Z II – Hey! I loved the books, but I like Brad Pitt, too. I can’t let him down. He needs me.

Kingsman II – I didn’t really enjoy the first film. I mostly tolerated it and parts of it were disturbing, and annoying. The creators are going to have to smarten this one up, or dumb it down, to get me to watch this.

So once again we’re getting almost nothing but sequels and remakes being released this summer.  I don’t actually  get as upset over this as some people, as I’ve enjoyed, and will enjoy, a number of sequels. I’m just making a note of this.

Also, I don’t plan to see everything that gets released, so I don’t get frustrated about that sort of stuff. As I mentioned earlier, I’m on a limited budget when it comes to movies, so I carefull choose what movies I’ll be seeing well in advance. Going to the movies is never an  impulse event in our house, where we’re just looking for something to do on a Friday night.

July – None of the rest of these movies have trailers yet, so except for Valerian, I haven’t decided if I’ll see them.

Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets – Looks like fun.

Spiderman:Homecoming – Hmmm…maybe. I like the little guy whose playing him and Zendaya is in it, although I have since heard she’s not playing Mary Jane. I need to see a trailer before I commit.

War for the Planet of the Apes – I haven’t watched any of the others movies, so I’m not gonna start with this one.

The Dark Tower –  Well, duh! I’ve got to support my precious cinnamon bun, Idris Elba.

August

Alien Covenant – No trailer, no commitment.

CHiPS – I remember watching the Hell out of this  TV show as a child. Even then, it was  obvious, that the motorcycles were the stars of the show. I remember othing at all about the human cast, but I think there was a woman in there somewhere, though.

This is by no means a complete list. I”ll have more though, as more trailers are released.

Media Link Roundup

 

Here’s a little roundup of new trailers and articles I thought were interesting. Most of these trailers have been shown at the NYCC.

This show seems to be a spinoff of Dr. Who. It takes place in that particular universe, at least. I’m only a middling fan of Dr. Who, but I have watched many of its spinoffs., and this looks intriguing. I’ll check it out when it makes it to my TV, although its not set to broadcast in the States until next year.

 

 

I actually enjoyed the first John Wick. Once you accept its  silly premise, it moves very smoothly from one action set piece to the next. I also like it when Keanu Reeves plays angry, sullen, and/or irritated. He does that very well.

 

 

I remember watching this TV show with my little sisters. They were obsessed with it, while I just thought it was hilarious. I do like this version though, which seems to take its premise somewhat more seriously, although it still looks a little cheesy. Hopefully the fight scenes are more ambitious than in the original series.

 

 

I know nothing about this show but what’s in the trailer. I do love a good Horror/Comedy, so I’ll check it out, and give you guys the lowdown. I’m a big McGinley fan too, so I’m looking forward to this and expect it to be hilarious.

Stan Against Evil Awakens November 2nd With Back-to-Back Episodes

 

I still don’t like that Danny Rand is not Asian and is being portrayed by the still completely unimpressive Finn Jones, (Who?) Anyway it is on Netflix soon and I plan to at least watch the first couple of episodes so that I can hold an intelligent conversation about it without turning into a complete rage-monster. Yes, I’m biased against it, because Luke Cage would be hard to top no matter what, but I will nevertheless go into this show trying to find some good in it, and if it proves to actually be good, I won’t hesitate to say so.

This isn’t set to air until May 17th, 2017, so I have plenty of time to get used to the idea.

 

 

 

Here’s a list of links to articles, interviews and posts on Westworld, Luke Cage, and reading and writing Diversity :

TV Review: LUKE CAGE

I Got Five On It: Marvel’s Luke Cage

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/feminism/2016/04/why-do-we-give-robots-female-names-because-we-dont-want-consider-their

https://www.inverse.com/article/21654-westworld-sex-robot-consent-rape-culture-science

https://www.inverse.com/article/21675-westworld-psychology-milgram-stanford-prison-experiment-black-hat

An Interview with Daniel José Older

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com

View at Medium.com