pulchritude

I just finished watching Akeelah and the Bee with the family. This is a great family film in the classic vain of The Karate Kid or Rocky – with words instead of fighting! The basic plot folows a young girl from a very difficult background in South Los Angeles trying to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The performances from the main kids are great and along with Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne, the cast is very solid. This is a very positive feel-good story with all of the right messages for children including: it is ok to be a geek, family is more than your blood relations, anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it, everyone learns in different ways, and everyone grieves in different ways. Yes this is all of the clichés you would expect to find in a film like this but in a world where films are about killing or being killed by snakes on planes, this is a refreshing respite. Besides, now I will always remember how to spell pulchritude and xanthosis.

Technorati Tags: Akeelah and the Bee, film, spelling bee

spoiler zeitgeist

I watched Fassbinder’s Die Ehe der Maria Braun (The Marriage of Maria Braun) last night and a very interesting thing happened. With approximately 30 minutes left in the film, a very minor piece of action occurs that is on the surface insignificant but as soon as I saw it I realized not only was this foreshadowing but that somewhere in the recesses of my memories I had heard or read the details of the ending of this film already. Thirty minutes later, the film ends – in just the way I knew it would. I liked the film a lot (the imagery is relevant in many ways to today), but this kind of ruined it for me. This relates directly to a conversation I was having with my nephew Eric last week regarding classic films and stories and how today it is almost impossible to not become aware of their defining moments. Rosebud, “it’s people!“, “I see dead people“, and the Statue of Liberty on the beach all come to mind (warning – some spoiler links!!). Somehow I became exposed to the ending of Maria Braun without even remembering it. I guess this is just part of the zeitgeist of Generation X and beyond.

Technorati Tags: spoiler, fassbinder, film, zeitgeist

nine lives

Since starting our Netflix subscription we have been alternating choices of movies between the two of us. Last night we watched one of her selections, Nine Lives (my last one was The Big Lebowski which, while funny, was not nearly as good as I had heard). I have to admit I did not plan on watching Nine Lives… and in fact did not watch the whole thing. I did some work on my laptop with film on in the background. This film lent itself very well to occasional attention because it was nine separate 12-minute, in some cases slightly interconnected, stories about different women. These stories were done each as a single camera, single continuous shoot (a la Hitchcock’s Rope), which added to the power of the story-telling in that you felt like you really got into the lives of the characters, albeit briefly. Overall the stories were inconsistent in their quality and most did not grab me (hence the continuing of my computer work while watching). The ones that I watched that I thought were very good were the one with Robin Wright-Penn and the very last one with Glenn Close and Dakota Fanning.

***slight spoilerage start****

This latter one was a great example of a story that could only be told effectively with film. The final moment when the camera pans around and you see what was really happening is awesome….we were both in tears.

***slight spoilerage end ****

I recommend this film if you like indie films with very serious yet sensitive depictions of real-life issues. With the right people, television could do a half-hour series like this and make it very entertaining.

Technorati Tags: Movies, Cinematography

the last stand

I took my older son to see X-Men: The Last Stand today…excellent film…we both liked it very much…probably my favorite of the X-Men franchise…as people have been saying Brett Ratner did not mess up what Bryan Singer started…a few bits I liked (without giving any major spoilers): Patrick Stewart teaching ethics to young mutants…Halle Berry finally given a chance to act in one of these films…the “mutant cure” story line raises a great number of questions that resonate well with the UU side of me…Famke Janssen…lots of cool new mutants…Shohreh Aghdashloo (a favorite from 24, Day 4) in a very small part…the very gray shades of right and wrong…and I’m glad we stayed for the extra scene after the credits

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