Elephant

December 15, 2012

Crappy Holidays: The Shooting in Newtown, Connecticut

*This is purely a commentary on the tragedy in Newtown, CT.  In no way do I condemn the 1st and 2nd Amendment, or any amendment of the Constitution.  Now is the time to reflect and be with friends and family, especially during this holiday season.*

This is Matthew Stewart from Simplistic Reviews.  On behalf of Simplistic Reviews and my two friends and co-reviewers, DJ Valentine and Justin Polizzi, I would like to send my heartfelt sympathy and compassion to all the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and friends affected by the school shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  This is another tragic reminder that we continue to live in a dangerous and jaded society where it’s not only easy to obtain a gun (either through theft or legal means) and that mental illness and its treatment are sadly undervalued in this country.

Yes, people have drive and desire, and will do anything to get their point across, no matter how sick and deplorable it might be. However, you can’t tell me with a straight face that Adam Lanza, the individual that carried out an atrocity that killed nearly 30 people, including 20 children between the ages of 5-10 years old, wasn’t in need of some help. Yes, I do not know the facts of the crime at this point, and none of us will ever know what was going through his mind before, during, and after his crime was committed, but when will Washington, both Democrats and Republicans, see that we obviously have a problem in this country with the ability to obtain guns so easily and with our healthcare system for the mentally ill.

*Link to Review for Elephant*

I recently had my grandfather pass away nearly two weeks ago and I attended his funeral last Saturday.  It was a sad day for my family.  It always hurts to lose a love one, but imagine losing your child, at school, during the holiday season.  Imagine you get a call from an emergency official that you need to hurry down to the school you just dropped your son or daughter off.  You gave them a kiss and a hug before they jumped out of the car and handed them their lunch.  “I love you, I’ll see you at 2 o’clock.”  No, that parent will never see their child alive again.  No more walks to the park to play on the big yellow slide or fly a kite.  You won’t get to see their face when they open their gifts on Christmas or Hanukkah, or ride their bike for the first time.  You won’t see them walk down the aisle at their high school and college graduation, or their wedding.  Families have been broken, forever.

This isn’t the time to discuss politics, we need to have respect for the families and friends who have lost their innocence and loved ones.  Reporters also need to have respect for the children and families and lay off the old adage “If it bleeds, it leads.”

Will we have another tragedy of this magnitude in the future?  Unfortunately, we will.  Its sad to say that, but if you’re prepared to accept the truth, the action will be just a little easier to swallow.  I’m not a father or a brother to a much younger sibling (my sister is 24 right now) and in no way can I comprehend the gravity of this horrific event, but as a society we can’t let this stop us from living our lives.  We can’t shut ourselves off to the world or stick our head in the sand.  Our kids will continue to go to school, we’ll continue to go to the movies, we’ll continue to live.  Hug your kids, love your family, but also tell them what happened.  Make them aware of the world that they live in is a dangerous and at times, unforgiving place.  Be honest with them, and treat them like kids, but with a little more respect.  Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, even the ones that run into plate glass windows and blow spit bubbles.  Be the parent that will tell them the truth and prepare them for the world they are going to inherit one day.  The tragedy is that the parents of 20 children will not be able to tell their children the same.

If you would like to help the families and the community of Newtown, CT, please click here to find out how to assist. 

August 20, 2012

Elephant

Elephant – Earnest

I normally write reviews on this site based on what I like and I normally don’t like including any types of politics, social commentary, or the such in my reviews (it’s just not my style to push that type of agenda down anyone’s throat).  I also realize that this review might be about four weeks overdue, but you know what they say (really, you should know the old saying).

Since the mass shooting at Columbine High School in Littleton, CO back in 1999, gun control, along with media and parental responsibility, has always been a hot topic issue, yet little, to nothing, has been done.  I’m in no way against taking away people’s guns, or telling the media how to cover sensational stories, or even how parents should take care of their kids. Maybe one day I’ll look at it from a different perspective once I’m a parent or, heaven forbid, a victim of a similar tragedy, but in the meantime I will continue to watch violent movies and play violent video games, but I refuse to watch shows like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”or “Jerseylious”that is just cruel and unusual.

It wasn’t until July 20th 2012 that all the talk started again about gun control and media responsibilty with the Aurora, CO tragedy during the midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises” where 12 people were killed and numerous others were wounded.  Yes, between Columbine and Aurora there have been other mass shootings (Red Lake, Virginia Tech, Ft. Hood) but to open fire in a crowded theater during a movie that many peoplpe might have been waiting their whole lives to see, it’s really hard to comprehend what would drive someone to such an insidious act. What really went on in his mind before, during, and especially after, all the bullets had been fired, and lives destroyed?  What drives us to our actions? What shapes us into the people we become?  How can be avoid these tragedies in the future?  While it might not answer all the questions we have, Gus van Sant’s “Elephant“allows us a glimpse into the anatomy of a crime and what we might be missing when it comes to the modern teenager.

Yes, many of you might be saying “Elephant, what a boring piece of crap!” or “Jesus, that movie had nothing to say about anything, it was just a bunch of kids walking around a school.”  Yes, I will admit there was a lot of walking, a lot of tracking shots, a lot of high school kids being high school kids, well, that is the point!  If you know anything about “Elephant”you know what happens at some point during the movie, there is a school shooting, reminiscent of the Columbine High shooting.  But its the lead up to the eventual shooting that makes this film all the more complex.

Van Sant does a great job of turning the mundane into something captivating, and there is always a payoff after each vignette involving the student(s), and the earnest way of dealing with the mundane fills you with dread if you know what is eventually going to happen to the students, and the school.  While the film does focus on the shooters, and details their motivations and frustrations, what you see with the non-shooters is almost as horrifying.  From homophobia, bulimia, apathetic teachers, and drunk parents, these are all the “elephants” in the room that no one wants to talk about and could be contributions to student behavior, but apathy breeds apathy until tragedy occurs.

“Elephant,” while not the most interesting character study, gives an earnest portrayal of teens in a post-9/11, post Columbine environment, and the scary part is that much hasn’t changed.

“Fun” Fact:  Many of the actors used in the film had their real name used as their character name.

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