An Improvement on the Original
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 is told well enough that a significant portion of the male population might not merely tolerate it, but possibly enjoy it—and it is, without a doubt, an acceptable and appropriate date movie. How do I know this? Well, anecdotally, my wife and I both rolled our eyes through the first Pants movie; in the second, only I did. If you want to impress your date, take her to see this. Pay attention, too, so you can talk about the movie later, Mr. Sensitivity; you may launch your relationship into new and stronger territory. And you might even enjoy the movie well enough to actually grunt some meaningful dialogue afterward.
Sometimes, It's Fun To Be A Kid
Space Chimps is a fun movie, even though I expected far less than the film actually delivered. The creatures are none too scary, and the good guys—the chimps as well as the friends they acquire while on their mission—are, admittedly, pretty cute. Several positive themes and lessons are woven into the movie as well: friendship, self-sacrifice, and mutual understanding, in addition to numerous others. Another important message within Space Chimps is that none of us is immune from taking advantage of those weaker than ourselves—a clear and gentle reminder for each of us. This is one of those rare occasions where a simplistic story is at least entertaining enough to keep adults interested.
Not For The Kiddies, Please
This week, producer Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead) releases (in various markets) Version 4 of the venerable Animation Show. The studio commissioned some new artists, drawing on talents thus far unseen. The Animation Show 4 prominently features a series of short films born in the prestigious French animation college Gobelins: Burning Safari; Cocotte Minute; VooDoo (one of my favorites); and Blind Spot. Each one is cleverly and creatively crafted, boasting solid writing and intriguing storylines. Since my opinions are generally favorable toward The Animation Show, I offer these words that Abe Lincoln ostensibly articulated: “For the people that like that kind of thing, that is just the kind of thing they would like.”
Living Word, Deadly Weapon
A powerful quote from Phillip Yancey opens the film, immediately and unmistakably establishing Merchant’s objective for his film: “No one ever converted to Christianity because they lost the argument.” Spot on. I have been praying that God would begin to strengthen His Church; I sincerely believe that Merchant’s documentary is part of His answer to that prayer. God faithfully cleanses His own house first; if nothing else, Merchant’s documentary will provide an accurate, broadly-scoped and distressing perspective on how our culture views the Church. If you live in the Portland, Oregon area, I highly encourage you to see this film while it plays there this week, June 13-19.
Arthouse Fare, This Ain’t
Hitchcock knew he was in the entertainment business. David Schwimmer and company seem to recognize this, too. The story is lame and simple—a guy learns ten years too late that he dumped the wrong gal, and now must run a marathon to win her back (!!)—but I connected with it. It contains a refreshing bit of human interest. It feels good in a predictable and humorous way. It celebrates the triumph of the human spirit. With some clever writing and sight gags, this movie felt like those madcap comedies of old I love so much. It’s an approach that sells movie tickets. In short, Run, Fat Boy, Run is fun, hopeful, positive and very funny.
An Argument for the Simplest Option
Will went to Washington to change the world. He wanted to change society for what he thought was better. He was a morally good person, and he had all the right ideals. He believed that he could have a hand in change if he supported the right candidate. He believed he could change the morality of the people he was around. He believed the world would be a better place when he helped Bill Clinton get elected. We all know the large public humiliation. We see Will refocus his change-wreaking tactics to ever smaller and smaller targets, until finally he realizes the only corner of the universe he has any control over is himself.
Finding Vision and Blindness
The emotion and psychological changes that take place in Youssef are handled with extremely delicate yet powerful cinematography. The Willow Tree eloquently handles the challenges of learning life anew through a totally different experience. An experience of starting over. The most profound part of the film is in how a blind man can become a seeing man—yet actually become more blind than ever before. Even though he now has a driver’s license. This is a very perceptive and profound film. Mr. Majidi is a master storyteller.
Everyone Is A Head Case
He Was A Quiet Man is a clever take on the detachment we have with our neighbors. “He was a quiet man.” “He seemed like a nice guy.” So let me get this straight. Since he seemed like a nice guy, we should just leave him alone and assume he is not someone we should mingle with. If, of course, he were a bad dude, we would stay away from him anyway. So he ends up a loser either way, thanks to us. The film is an expose on how we treat others. The dark comedy is biting, clever, and more than a little convicting.
The Life of the Mind (on Film)
I predict that this film will be another powerful foreign movie that few will see. And that will be an utter tragedy. The film is based on Bauby’s most unusual autobiography, which he dictated letter by letter by blinking his eye. His ability to dictate his story via his soaring intellect and uncontrollable emotions—if expressed only through the simple act of blinking his thoughts letter by letter—is a wonder of human achievement rivaling any of the man-made wonders of the world. The screenplay does credit to Mssr Bauby’s creativity and grace, and the camera work is also absolute perfection. This film is a masterwork by Julian Schnabel. His sensitivity to the subject matter was no doubt inspired by the sheer unimaginable work of genius and persistence exhibited by Bauby and his aides. The film handles this difficult subject in creative and comedic ways. Schnabel brings a rare ability to make a film out of an inert subject.
Why is it that God all
De Palma Takes on War
Brian DePalma calls the current Iraq war “senseless.” That may a bit naïve coming from someone who hasn’t been violated by Al Qaeda, Saddam Hussein, or even by the U.S. Military, but war is never senseless to the participants. There is always a reason; we just may not agree with it, or we may not know enough to understand. That being said, De Palma’s film performs a valuable service: it opens some unadulterated windows into what is happening in this war in one way at least—presenting us with photographs of actual wartime casualties. Redacted is “inspired” by the rape and murder of a 14-year old Iraqi girl in Samarra in 2006. What this fictionalized account shows is that war, and the evil that causes it, distorts and perverts even the best of people.
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