What do you do when you are on the highest rated seasons of The Ultimate Fighter (basically the American Idol of fighting), a heavyweight UFC fighter, and VIP service at the top clubs across the country? You go to the Democratic Republic of Congo and you start helping the heavily persecuted Mbuti Pygmy people. This is the real life story of Justin Wren, not a new Marvel comic that is about to be adapted and released in theaters. I personally got choked up when Justin starts his book with a tale about Andibo. Andibo was 18 months old when Justin got to his home and had to bury him. His mother was so devastated and dehydrated that she could not even produce tears to cry at her own son’s funeral. Justin then goes back in time to explain how he got to Africa, his mission, and how he plans to accomplish it. This Friday, February 19, 2016, Justin Wren takes on Juan Torres at Toyota Center in Houston. But this time he’s not just fighting for himself, he’s fighting for the forgotten.
Whether it is accurate it or not, Focus is a really interesting and visually pleasing look into the world of “Professional Pickpockets”. Helmed by Will Smith and Margot Robbie, this film gives you a break down of the occupation and occupational hazards in an entertaining way. Smith delivers as one of the front men of the organization. “Crazy, Stupid, Love” directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa follow up their fantastic film with another fun, fast paced movie. I really enjoyed the story telling in that film and once again saw plenty of the dynamic directing duo’s style in this one as well. They are set to release “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot” starring Tina Fey and Margot Robbie on March 4, 2016.
What do you do when every single aspect of your life is crumbling and you feel like there is nothing you can do about it? Obviously, you travel around the world and help as many people in as many countries as you can. You don’t necessarily work for food, but rather a bed to sleep on so you can continue to serve. This is the predicament John Marshall found himself in. A director from Maine, John and his wife talked about traveling the world when they were younger, but due to a myriad of circumstances never got around to it. At this pivotal moment in his life, John brought the idea up once again and this time they acted on it. Wide-Open World is definitely one of my favorite books I’ve ever read. I wasn’t even aware of this concept of “Voluntourism”. John claims it is the future of travel, and I have to agree with him.
Immediately upon the conclusion of this film, I wanted to call my mom and tell her I love her. The Revenant is not a movie for the faint of heart. It is not a movie for people who want to mindlessly watch a collaboration of action and pumping audio effects. It is a movie about family, love, and survival. I am constantly amazed at how Leonardo DiCaprio has changed, evolved, and grown over the years. From the lead role in “Romeo + Juliet” to “The Wolf of Wall Street”, I have enjoyed the breadth of roles and characters he has taken on. In this film, DiCaprio plays a tortured soul that not only has to face his own mortality, but the brutal American frontier. I was also blown away by the direction director Alejandro Iñárritu took this movie in. 2014’s “Birdman” was no fluke as he follows it up with another instant classic. Tom Hardy plays a supporting role that reunites him with DiCaprio for the first time since the Christopher Nolan epic “Inception”. These two keep the momentum and chemistry from that film rolling as this film has rightfully earned its nomination for Best Film, and DiCaprio and Hardy earned theirs for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor.
In the latest installment of Star Wars, the force awoke, and it awoke with a vengeance. All complaints of too much CGI or sub-par storytelling that was prevalent in the last three films were forgotten with this epic from director JJ Abrams. While reading the National Geographic Traveler right before the release of the film, I was elated to find out that one of the biggest difference from this film to the past three would be the presence of on-location filming, as opposed to the CGI that plagued the previous installments. This was evident from the start as the movie was one visually, as well as emotionally, compelling space epic. The new characters, as well as the old, helped carry us through a galaxy far, far away. I left the theater with a new hope (pun fully intended) and high hopes for the future of this saga.
When the housing market collapsed, I’ll be the first to admit I had no idea what happened or why it happened. The Big Short, starring Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, and Steve Carrell, does its best to answer both questions in an engaging, entertaining way. This movie takes the unenviable task of explaining real estate and simultaneously getting us to know the characters who foresaw one of the most unfortunate eras in American history. Christian Bale stole the show as Dr. Michael Burry, who was the first to see the catastrophe coming. The roles the four leading men played change dramatically throughout the film as they go from feelings of elation of their foresight to resignation and pure sorrow as they become aware of what is about to happen to the nation’s economy. I left the theatre both chuckling and pondering.
The Zen of Social Media Marketing enlightened me on so many levels as to mindset of people using social media all around the world. For the longest time I thought social media was a waste of time and an invasion of privacy. Shama showed me that its purest intention couldn’t be any further from my preconceived notions. What social media has allowed us to do is connect with people that we ordinarily connect with in real life in times when we are not in their physical presence. She stresses that real, personal connections are more important than ever, and social mediums are just a bridge between the moments you are actually in that persons presence. She gives phenomenal metaphors equating FaceBook to a coffee shop and Twitter to a colorful bazaar of ideas and opinions. She covers the social mediums she has found the most important and imparts her wisdom of how she has best utilized them in her personal and professional life. This was the most enlightening look into how social media operates I have ever read.