A Worrying Time to be Alive

Last week James E Holmes terrorised a cinema in America showing the latest batman movie, shooting dead twelve people, including a six-year-old girl whose mother is still fighting for her life in hospital, unaware of her daughter’s death. He arrived through an emergency exit dressed as the Joker, causing many to assume he was a practical joker, that is until the shooting started. A few were shot at as they raced towards the exit, one man leapt from a 20ft balcony with his baby daughter as his partner was shot in the leg as she moved in front of their other child to protect her.

Most worryingly of all perhaps is that there seems to be no motive behind this attack. James Holmes had just dropped out of his PhD, and although fellow students didn’t know him as he kept to himself, neighbours described him as a “normal kid”.

Over recent years there have been other incidents which cause you to question people’s sanity. A shooting in Norway last year left 77 dead. A father killed his three children before committing suicide.

What drives these people to invoke such terror?

Is it the array of violent films and video games available? Because that’s what they thought prompted the kidnapping and murder of James Bulger in 1993 by two older children (as well as a troubled home life).

Or is it mental instability? The father-in-law of the father who stabbed his three children to death before killing himself insists there was no malice, that there was “only victims”.

I think it’s scarier if these people who commit these acts are sane, as then they are completely aware of the destruction and the heartbreak they’re causing.

Incidents like the cinema shooting really make you consider today’s society and how we are capable of creating monsters who feel no remorse after killing dozens of innocent people.

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Seven Pounds: Will Smith

“In seven days God created the world. And in seven seconds I shattered mine.” – Seven Pounds (2008)

Yesterday my brother was doing his PRE (Philosophy, Religion and Ethics) homework and said he needed a film which had moral implications. After suggesting Seven Pounds and trying to remember what exactly what happened we decided to put it on.

Will Smith stars as Ben Thomas, a man who is trying to redeem himself after causing a terrible catastrophe, ruining several lives. He chooses seven people who he believes deserve a second chance and plans to help them. However, after developing feelings for one girl, whose life is in the balance, he must decide whether he should reveal his secret or continue with his original intentions.

The first time I watched it, Seven Pounds was a bit confusing as the scenes flashed between Ben’s life before and after the accident. At the time, as I remember it, it wasn’t clear what had happened to cause the torrent of guilt and the drive for redemption, however, it remained a powerful and moving experience as the story becomes apparent by the end.

This film certainly shows Will Smiths’ acting at its best, he displays real emotion for each decision he makes and causes the audience’s emotions to fly with him. Though Seven Pounds is not a happy film, it ends on a joyful, inspiring and hopeful note as Ben succeeds in bringing new life and opportunities for the chosen seven.

As well as being an excellent film, Seven Pounds is also a thought-provoking experience as it raises questions and moral issues over who has the right to decide who deserves life, death or a second chance. Ben Thomas tests his chosen seven to see if they are kind enough to be worthy of his help, but should that really be his decision? Who is he to condemn a person to a life of poor health just because there is someone else who he sees as a more worthwhile subject?

Anyway, moral issues aside Seven Pounds is an absorbing, captivating film; perfect for an afternoon with your feet up. My advise would be to watch it with a comforting cup of tea and a box of tissues.

Disappointed Expectations

It’s very easy to find reviews of new films, music and books, but, and I don’t know if anyone agrees, I enjoy looking for good ones that I may have missed two years, or even ten years, ago. However, information on these can be hard to find and unless I just wander into a shop and pick out random films/books/cds I never know how to choose (especially as some turn out to be rubbish and a waste of money). Whether this fondness for things out-of-date is because of new ones being too much and I’m a poor student with no money, or whether it’s due to previously seeing/reading/hearing something that had such a big hype and being disappointed, I don’t know.

For instance, one of my friends recently got round to seeing ‘The Social Network’ (a little late I know), which I haven’t seen but want to when I get time, and he says that although it was worth seeing, he wouldn’t go out and buy it. This makes me wonder where all the hype came from, and if my friend would’ve enjoyed it more if he saw it without hearing all of the raving reviews, which probably boosted its image too much.

Also, I find I like the anticipation of picking up a book or film which I’ve never heard of or has been recommended, but isn’t so much in the public eye, and being allowed to make my own judgements without having dictated expectations or opinions thrust upon me.

Do you find hyped-up films often fall short? Do you agree that sometimes you enjoy the more unknown as it gives you freedom to form your own conclusions without external influence?