Friday, March 30, 2007

What I'm Watching

1. Who Killed the Electric Car (2006) A great documentary that made me so mad! If you like Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, you'll like this one, too. The facts about the electric car are astounding and hard to believe. The movie goes a bit long, I think, the pace slows toward the end, but not too bad. Highly recommended.

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2. Life is Beautiful (1997) An incredible performance by Roberto Benigni. A great feel-good story of beauty and redemption in the midst of chaos and brutality from the perspective of a Jewish father and his young son in a Nazi concentration camp. A comedy/drama that deals with suffering in a light-hearted way that does not minimize the pain, either. Again, Benigni is brilliant here. Highly recommended.

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3. American History X (1998) Already a bit dated in its head-on treatment of racism. I prefer the more subtle and humorous Crash. It had been a while since I'd seen this film, and Katherine had never seen it. Ed Norton is terrific (as usual). While the movie reflects a bit of reality, that's not where much of us live. While this movie is set in contemporary times, I think it reflects a much older generation better than the 1990s. The blatant racism of this movie can still be found and ought to be condemned, but this movie turns our wagging fingers away from ourselves and onto the "really bad people." Nonetheless, the laundry room scenes when Norton is in prison are fantastic, redemptive, and illustrate the principle of redemptive suffering quite well. Worth seeing, but hard to watch.

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4. Along Came a Spider (2001) A (somewhat) clever who-donnit mystery we watched because we like Morgan Freeman. The female lead, Monica Potter, was quite distracting because she looks so much like Julia Roberts. Anyway, if you like twisting plots -- Law and Order - style drama, you'll probably enjoy it. The characters are not well developed. I don't think this is anyone's favorite movie, but a solid entry into the genre. We were both surprised (and not disappointed) with the ending.

5. Luther (2003) The movie quality is not great. The characters are not well-developed. I think you'd have to know a bit about Luther's life and work in order to understand the plot. Nonetheless, it's worth watching to help put Luther in a more human light. Luther is portrayed more conflicted about his convictions than I see historical warrant for, but that seems to be the cultural value of today. Sorta like how Peter Jackson made Aragorn more conflicted (and at times, reluctant) about his rise to power than Tolkein intended. For the educational value, and to remind us of this incredibly important story of God's work in the world, I recommend it.

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6. Hotel Rwanda (2004) Don Cheadle is brilliant in this terrific true story of redemptive suffering. If you haven't learned about the Rwandan genocide of perhaps 1,000,000 people in the summer of 1994, this is a good entry point -- it's not a documentary, it's a movie. I found the "extras" on the DVD to be amazingly powerful -- interviews with the actual hotel owner (played by Cheadle in the movie), and video footage of some of the places, ruins and artifacts of the brutality. The movie could have had a quicker pace for me, but definately worth watching. Highly recommended.

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7. Philadelphia (1993) Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. Both are great, but this is not the best work of either. This is a tear-jerker. About discrimination and oppression of homosexuals. We're not where we should be as a society on the issue, but I'm glad we're past this point, mostly. The ending was way too long! Otherwise, it's a well-made movie dealing with an important issue in a sensitive but powerful story. Worth seeing, but I'm still waiting for a definative movie on this topic.

8. Dear Frankie (2004) Scottish film directed by Shona Auerbach, perhaps my favorite in this list (or perhaps, Life is Beautiful, another foriegn film). Another feel-good story dealing with all sorts of family-systems issues and the pain of broken relationships. Redemptive suffering of a mother, of a son, and of a stranger. They all give themselves to help each other for various reasons. Does that sound boring? It's not. The movie relies on a slower pace that requires attention to relational details that are often subtle. However, the director does a terrific job to train the eye toward them, making for a terrific piece of art. Emily Mortimer's performance is really quite amazing, I think. Highly recommended.

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9. 300 (2006) What can I say. It's a bloody mess. Think of all the climactic battle scenes of the Lord of the Rings, but without any character development or plot. Honor, glory, sacrifice, brotherhood, bravery. More violence than any other movie I've ever seen -- and the violence is stylized -- almost artistic. I'm not sure that's a good thing, but maybe it is. The movie interplays a bit of sex with the violence, but not pornographic (which is how I'd describe some movies I've seen rated R). Sex as seen in a wholesome way from a man's perspective. However, I'm not sure this is the best medium for that message. I can pour a lot of manhood spirituality into this movie and make it worth my time, which I did -- God created men to fight, protect and risk. With a lot of qualifications, I recommend it.

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Blogger nickg said...

Dude! You've been busy watching movies lately. I'm so jealous. Watching a movie is one of my favorite things to do, but it seems like I/we rarely have 2+ hours to spend at one time to watch one. And going to a movie not only takes 3+ hours, with driving and lines and etc., but now it involves trying to find a babysitter and it's so dang expensive.

We've done a little better lately, especially now that we've started using the Redbox at McDonald's. I don't think there's any other reason I could get Suzanne to go into a McDonald's except for a $1.08 movie. I think that price is pretty comparable to Netflix (not sure about that) but there's no monthly commitment to worry about in those busy months when we can only rent 1 or 2 movies.

Anyway, we need to talk live, my friend, like via phone. It's been too long. Suzanne and I haven't started planning our summer vacation yet (it greatly depends on what our parenthood situation is) but since I got to pick last year's trip I know Suzanne is itching to get back to the beach.

10:42 AM, March 30, 2007  

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