Archive for May, 2008

Two-fer

May 31, 2008

Feeling guilty for blogging so little of late (I know – as compared to the voluminous blogging I normally do – I know, I know), I decided to treat both me and I (the only readers of this blog besides myself) to a two-fer.

My latest foray to the video store was quirky, to say the least.  The first movie we watched was Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.  Somehow, I tricked myself into remembering that somebody had claimed this was an underrated movie.  Whoever that person was, is, or never was, they were wrong.  This movie could not possibly be underrated enough. 

If you think to yourself, as I sometimes do, “Hey, this movie has some people I’ve heard of in it.  Paltrow.  Law.  Jolie.  How bad can it be?”  please quit thinking such thoughts prior to renting this movie – and perhaps you’ll avoid renting it.  I won’t belabor the point any further.  It was a monumentally awful movie.  If you’re a fan of poorly acted and directed movies hearkening back to the poorly acted and directed sci-fi movies of the 50’s, you *might* find some redeeming value in this movie.  Otherwise, yer just throwin’ your $4 in the trash.

My second choice was totally one of those whim things.  Wife likes movies about people, so I decided that Confessions of a Superhero might be right up her alley.  Bingo – it was a definite strike.  In the positive, bowling sense of the word which maintains the metaphor of ‘alley’ in the previous sentence.  Wife like.  Me happy.

Quirky is probably too vague a word for this simple but poetic look at the lives of four people who dress up like superheros and accept tips for having their pictures taken with tourists in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.  They each have aspirations to work in film.  Their reasons for taking up this line of work vary.  They are devestatingly real and authentic, in the touching, embarrassing, and painful ways that people doing strange things can be.  The film simply rolls, capturing them in their best and worst moments, both privately and in their persona as ‘characters’, unofficial (and not universally appreciated) ambassadors of goodwill to the tourists of Hollywood.  As the Wonder Woman actress states, “this is a train wreck, but you can’t look away”.  And you can’t. 

Or perhaps shouldn’t.  

A deceptively unadorned movie about painfully uncomplicated people doing unlikely things for uncertain reasons.  If you’re an observer of the human nature, you’ll love this movie.  If you’re a dreamer, it’s a bold encouragement and a cold glass of water in the face all at the same time.  You want these people to succeed, even though you know the odds are stacked impossibly against them. 

And there’s a funny trailer for a film called Chalk that looks like it would be a good watch as well.

I strongly encourage watching the deleted scenes that are included on the DVD bonus section.  Particularly the long but funny clip about how Bonnie and Chris (Superman) met. 

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A Spoonful of Spirituality…

May 5, 2008

Movies that work in a bit of spiritual along with computer generated eye candy are a conundrum for me.  I want to know whether or not the spiritual comments are intended as the tip of an iceberg, revealing what the overall purpose and message of the movie might be, or simply provided to add depth where there really isn’t any. 

Case in point – I Am Legend.  Seems like a pretty straight-forward sci-fi-action-zombie-cannibal flick.  It’s been done before, the storyline shouldn’t (and doesn’t) hold many surprises.  And all that’s fine, because Will Smith is a good actor and special effects are pretty good these days and so it should just be a decent remake. 

But woven into the story – in subtle yet intentional ways – is a spiritual thread.  A dialogue about faith – and the best place to rest faith – oneself/mankind, or God.  There are plenty of examples in the movie of those whose misplaced faith in their own/mankind’s abilities proved woefully unwarranted.  The doctor who initially developed the mutated virus which ends up turning on mankind.  Will Smith single-handedly striving to mend the wrongs that others did.  And then there’s the issue of faith in God, in the willingness and ability to listen to God as a source for direction – not in an esoteric sort of New-Agey amorphousness, but in very practical God-is-speaking-and-I-will-adjust-my-actions-accordingly. 

I come away wondering, is this what the main theme of the movie is?  It could be – but if that’s the case, it doesn’t pull it off very well.  The ending is the equivalent of amputating a body part after the prolonged effort at laying the groundwork. 

I can’t simply ignore religious/spiritual symbolism and dialogue when it occurs in movies, since this is sort of my main focus in life.  On the other hand, I dislike reading too much into a story, and it’s no fun being irritated with a writer/director for not being able (or willing) to lay the message out and tell it to conclusion.  I dislike the idea that spirituality/religion might just be another hook for the consumer – no more fulfilling or even relevant to the main feature than sex appeal or lots of explosions. 

But I gotta admit, it’s an effective hook for me where sex and explosions aren’t.  I hate to think that somebody is calculating and counting on my willingness to take their bait, searching for a meal and ending up hung out to dry instead.