It was a perfectly ordinary day.

For Captain Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) it truly was a perfectly ordinary day. At least it was that morning before the flight took off. For him an ordinary day was usually preceded by a night of partying, drinking to excess, drugs like marijuana and cocaine, and sex.

All night long. In the morning, Whitaker would drink whatever was left on the nightstand next to the bed, smoke, and he’d get himself right, as in ready for work, by snorting a few lines of nose candy.

He arrived at the airport on this particular day in a heavy rainstorm. He performed the usual pilot’s ground check of the plane’s exterior before boarding.

He greeted his flight crew as usual. He looked, sounded, and acted as chipper as any guy reporting for work.

However Whitaker wasn’t just an ordinary guy reporting for work. As we all know, Captains on airplanes usually make an introductory speech to the passengers. Whitaker did this (Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to sit back, stretch out, and relax. I’ll have you on the ground in 40 minutes) while standing in the forward galley of the plane. He was mostly in full view of the passengers and cabin attendants. Only while with one hand he was holding a microphone and greeting the passengers, with his other hand, which was hidden behind the galley wall, he mixed three airline bottles of vodka into a bottle of orange juice, which he then took with him into the pilot’s cabin.

On this perfectly ordinary day, Captain Whitaker’s personal habits collided with a severe rainstorm, a plane that fell apart at 30,000 feet (a mechanical failure of a key element of the airplane’s equipment) and an act of God. The malfunctioning plane fell from the sky, and somehow, the people and the plane met the ground in far less than the expected flight time of 40 minutes. Whitaker managed to land the damaged plane in a field, thereby avoiding the catastrophe or disaster of killing everyone on board. Of the 102 people on the flight, 96 survived. There were just six fatalities.

The FAA placed 10 pilots in simulators and re-created every event. Every pilot killed everyone on board. You were the only one who could do it.

On its face, Whitaker became a national hero. But below the surface there was the matter of the blood test performed on Whitaker after he was pulled unconscious from the wreckage.

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Carnage & I Wish

As a movie watcher, I’ve no say at which films are booked into my local cineplex and no say in when they play. I’m just the consumer, and the business of movies has nothing to do with me. Except for the buying of the tickets. The result of what I am able to see is also a function of where I live. Some areas are deemed important or prime to the movie distributors, and other areas less so. When I lived in Manhattan, nearly everything I wished to see could be found. Even films that opened in a selective limited release would be screened in New York. This is not the case in Sarasota, Florida.┬áBut in today’s world of modern technology, if I can’t see a film in a film theater, eventually I will be able to see it at home via either a film delivery service like Netflix, or I could see it via the On-Demand service provided by my cable company.

All of the above is neither here nor there but is just a part of the root cause of how I happened to watch two films two days ago. The other factors were that baseball has just concluded the 2012 season, football games are rarely scheduled on Tuesday, The NHL is in the midst of a lockout, and the NBA has just started its season. The fact that these two films that can safely be placed under the umbrella category of ‘family dramas’ isn’t that meaningful either, in the context of why I watched them.

What is important is how different these two films are.

On its surface, I Wish (Kiseki) is a film about two brothers, separated by the failed marriage of their parents. One boy, the older brother, lives in Kagoshima, a southern coastal city on the Japanese island Kyushu with his mother and her parents. The younger boy lives in Fukuoka, a city on the north end of the same island, with his Dad.

Once upon a time, we were a family …

Both of the boys wish that they could be reunited and once again live as a family. So as we watch, we hope that the brothers wishes come true. We want the family to be unified.

What the boys dream about …

In Carnage, directed by Roman Polanski, the story begins with a playground squabble between two 11-year-old boys. We don’t know what they’re arguing about as the camera is set up at a distance and slightly above this Brooklyn, NY, schoolyard playground. What happens is that argument escalates into pushing and shoving until one boy strikes the other boy with a stick. The result is muted because of our distance from the action, but we will come to learn that the boy who took the blow, lost at least one tooth, and he might lose a second.. The aftermath of the playground scrap is the meeting of the four parents, sans children, which forms the meat and potatoes of the film.

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