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Strangers Out of Time

 

film xmen‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ doesn’t play fair with its mutants

It’s just not the same, the fifth time around. Merging the plot of Chris Marker’s La Jetee with the adventures of the usual gang of mutants, X-Men: Days of Future Past continues the unresolvable debate over minority acceptance, between the anxious liberal Charles Xavier and the radical Magneto. Director Bryan Singer creates a temporally and physically sprawling blockbuster, vivid in action segments, strangely remote in the intimate moments. It’s wrong, somehow, to get two great Shakespeareans like Ian McKellan (the old Magneto) and Patrick Stewart (the frustratingly benign Xavier) to await the end of the world together, and then give them nothing Shakespearean to say about it. 

Strange also that Magneto, or rather the ever-saturnine McKellan, doesn’t see the ironic humor in it—it turned out he was right all along about the suicidal evil of the humans.

In a dark future of gutted skyscrapers and blowing ash, most of humanity and nearly all of the mutants have been incinerated by Sentinels—world-purifying killbots with blank, scaly faces that unfold into blast furnaces. Magneto, Xavier and the last of the X-Men hole up in a Tibetan monastery. They decide to use the physicist Kitty Pryde (Ellen Page) back to 1973. That was when the Nixon administration ordered the development of the Sentinels by robotics scientist Bolivar Trask (Peter Dinklage). What sealed the development was Trask’s assassination in Paris at the hands of the shapeshifter known as Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence).

Editor/composer John Ottman sends the material hurling forward with a soundtrack that recalls John Barry, Ennio Morricone and a bit of Brian Eno. But the film stumbles over the relations of the six or so main characters. The rivalry between Xavier and Magneto is vague: it’s like Singer would like them to be spurned lovers, bad friends, rivals in love and estranged relatives all at the same time. They argue over their influence molding Mystique—“you didn’t raise her, you lived with her,” Magneto snaps—and then you see Jennifer Lawrence, who looks like she never needed molding from any man. When past and present are contrasted—as they weren’t in the first prequel—it’s tough to see how McAvoy and Fassbender aged to become so grand and theatrical.

X-Men: Days of Future Past also doesn’t seem to have a grasp on the paranoia of the 1970s. The era seems to be all about the clothes and the soul music, not that Jackman doesn’t look funky in a brown leather jacket and a wide-collared polyester shirt. Nixon is introduced with a good old silent-comedy joke—we see his office staff lined up eagerly, and then we cut to his three dogs, also lined up and panting for attention. There’s no sense of the panic or terror Nixon inspired, as there was in Watchmen. As played by Mark Camacho, he’s a pudgy, archaic joke. Similar poor history turns up in the Paris Peace Accords scenes—they didn’t represent the end of the Vietnam War, only a new stage in it. The event is there to give Trask the Donald Rumsfeld role—to use the occasion of the loss of a war to sell arms for the next one.

The previews can make a longtime mutant fan misty—they’re edited for conflict and poignancy, and Fassbender’s Magneto hovering over Washington, D.C. is an intimidating sight. But seen in 3D, the film is visually sooty, and the movie doesn’t have the end-of-the-trail sadness you can expect. Things that really hurt happen to characters that longtimers care about. Lawrence’s Mystique, in all the ash-blonde, baby-faced pre-morality of her chosen form, in floppy Carly Simon hat and maxi-skirt, is as serious a femme fatale as the movies have had recently, and yet she emotes neurotic fragility. She’s suddenly exposed, screaming, in her true form in front of a wave of photographers. Wolverine is bound in construction rebar and hurled into the sky.

But there’s no time to follow these characters, or to feel their panic, because it’s time to cut to the posse attacking the cornered X-Men in the future, to watch more flame-throwing. It’ll drive all the thoughts out of your head for two hours, but ultimately all you can feel is the pressure as it tries to break your heart.


X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST With Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Ian McKellan and Michael Fassbender. Written by Simon Kinberg. Directed by Bryan Singer. Rated PG-13. 131 minutes.

 

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District Attorney Bob Lee’s death in October stunned the Santa Cruz community, but he had battled cancer fiercely—and privately—for more than a decade. Now one of his closest friends reveals the remarkable inside story

 

Our Gifts - Fiery Sacrificial Lights to One Another

Wednesday is Christmas Eve, Hanukkah ends and the Moon is in Aquarius, calling for the new world to take shape at midnight. Thursday morning, the sun, at the Tropic of Capricorn, begins moving northward. The desire currents are stilled. A great benediction of spiritual force (Capricorn’s Rays 1, 3, 7) streams into Earth. Temple bells ring out. The heavens bend low; the Earth is lifted up to the Light. Angels and Archangels chant, “On Earth, peace, goodwill to all.” As these forces stream into the Earth they assume long swirling lines of light, in the likeness of the Madonna and Child. The holy child is born. Let our hearts be “impressed” with and hold this picture, especially because Christmas may be difficult this year. Christmas Day is void of course moon (v/c moon), which means we may feel somewhat disconnected from one another. It’s difficult to connect in a v/c moon. Try anyway. Mercury joins Pluto in Capricorn. Uh oh … we don’t bring up the past containing any dark and difficult issues. We are to attempt new ways of communicating—expressing aspirations and love for one another, replacing wounding, sadness, lostness, and hurts of the past. Play soothing music, pray together, have the intention for peace, harmony and goodwill. Don’t be surprised if things feel out of control and/or arguments arise. We remember, before a new harmony emerges, chaos and crisis come first to clear the air. We are to be the harmonizers. Christmas evening is more harmonious, less difficult, more of what Christmas should be— radiations of love, sharing, kindness, compassion and care. Sunday, Feast Day of the Holy Family, is surprising. Wednesday is New Year’s Eve, the last day of 2014. Taurus moon, a stabilizing energy, ushers in the New Year. Happy New Year, everyone! Peace to everyone. Let us realize we are gifts radiating diamond light to one another. Living sacrificial flames!

 

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