Archive for the ‘Film’ Category


Monday, March 20th, 2006

As I wrote last summer, I was cautiously optimistic about the movie of V for Vendetta.  We saw it over the weekend, and it was neither as good as I had hoped (nor as the book) nor as bad as I had feared.  It’s gotten very mixed reviews, which are justified, because it’s a very mixed bag of a movie.  Parts are taken directly from the book — not just word for word, but frame by frame.  In other places, there are significant changes, some to justify the violence, some to simplify the (admitedly extremely complicated) plot, and some just becuase it’s Hollywood.  But the changes include some of the strongest parts of the movie as well as some of the cheesiest bits.  Except for about 10 minutes, I enjoyed the movie, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it.

We saw it at the Old Town Theater, which I walk by at least 10 times a week, but this was the first time I had been inside.  It’s a neat space, with a ceiling that must be 30 feet high.  Because of the way the seats recline, and the decoration, it’s possible to get the feeling that the screen is below you.  It’s a very different feel than the multiplex.  The "lobby" is about a foot and a half deep.  You buy your tickets on the same line as the concession stand, and there aren’t any previews, let alone ads.  Before the show, the owner stood up and urged people to consider buying memberships, because he’s trying to pay off the debt and turn the place over to a nonprofit trust.

On another note, T and I also watched The Maltese Falcon on video over the weekend.  It’s been a while since I had seen it.  Does anyone else think that the whole movie makes more sense if Effie (the incredibly efficient secretary) double crosses Spade?  She certainly has more of a chance to switch the bird than anyone else.  Maybe, like Tiptree’s Ruth Parsons, Effie Perine "doesn’t want to be memorable."


Sunday, March 5th, 2006

I’m so excited.  Not about the Oscars, about the Koufax awards.  They’re finally open for voting.  (Not that I’m complaining about the delay — they’re a major effort to put on, and a total work of love.)

I’ve been nominated in two categories: Most Deserving of Wider Recognition and Best Series for my posts on work-family issues.  I think this is a preliminary round of voting, and then there will be another round after they’ve narrowed the nominees down. I know that some of my other favorite blogs — Bitch, PhD, Geeky Mom, Feministe, Pandagon, Majikthise — have been nominated as well.  I think Pharyngula gets my vote for best single post.  I know that there are lots of other great blogs out there.  Please vote for your favorites.

About those Oscars.  I might TiVo them.  Not seeing the movies takes a lot of the fun out of it. Of the movies up for major awards, Brokeback Mountain is the only one I’ve seen.  I’ve seen two of the three nominees in the animated picture category.  (We took the boys to see Wallace and Grommit, but saw Corpse Bridge on our own.  Yes, we’re geeks.)  I’ve also seen King Kong, March of the Penguins, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the last two on video).


Monday, February 6th, 2006

Last week, I borrowed Fly Away Home from the library to watch with D.  I winced when I realized within the first few minutes of the movie that they were about to kill off the mother, but it was done subtly enough that I think it went straight over D’s head.  He  loved the movie, and is going around saying that he’s going to ask for it for his sixth birthday (which is only 11 1/2 months away).

We finished our reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over the weekend.  Prompted by Jody’s lovely description of reading scary stories to an empty room, with her kids peaking around the doorway, it occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t send D to bed having just read the chapter in which Aslan is killed.  So we read two chapters that night, moving right from the death to the rebirth, with hardly a chance to think in between.

Sunday night we watched March of the Penguins.  Some of you are probably seeing the problem coming, but I was totally blindsided.  I wasn’t sure D would have the patience to sit through the whole thing, but he did.  And then some of the eggs were dropped and froze.  And some of the adult penguins were eaten by the leopard seals.  And when the big blizzard hit just after the eggs hatched, and some of the penguins chicks froze to death, he looked at the pictures of the pathetic little bodies and asked if they were going to come back to life.  And we said no, in this world people and animals don’t come back to life when they’re dead.  And he burst into tears. 

We stopped the movie and held him, and agreed that yes, it is sad, and yes, it’s ok to cry, and no, we don’t know why everything has to die.  And after a bit he calmed down and blew his nose, and we watched the rest of the movie.

Of all the things I want for my children, I think I most want them to develop empathy, to be people who pay attention to how things affect others, to be mensches.   But I don’t want them to be what a friend calls "skinless," totally exposed to the harshness and craziness of the world.   

7 Up

Monday, July 11th, 2005

I’ve been watching the movies in the 7 Up series of documentaries (7 Up, Seven Plus 7, 21 Up, etc.)  They’re interesting on many levels.

  • As a parent of young children, it’s painful to watch the transformation between age 7 and age 14.  The 7 year olds are all bursting with energy and charm, while two of the 14 year olds seem physically incapable of looking directly at the camera.  It reminded me of Anne Lamott’s line that "worse than just about anything else is the agonizing issue of how on earth anyone can bring a child into this world knowing full well that he or she is eventually going to have to go through the seventh and eighth grades."
  • These are, in some ways, the first "reality TV" shows.  It’s hard to imagine how much of a novelty it must have been in 1963 to have a camera crew showing up in an elementary school.
  • One of the children in the series is Black, but there don’t seem to be any other non-white kids in any of the classrooms shown.  Twenty-one years later, one of the subjects has become a primary school teacher and his students are highly diverse.  It made me realize that for all the books I’ve read and movies I’ve seen showing Pakistanis and Bangladeshis in London, I know almost nothing about when and how that wave of immigration happenend.
  • The filmmakers are very interested in class, and how it shaped the experiences of the children.  They ask the upper-class kids what schools they’re going to, and almost all of them were able to accurately state which public (e.g. private/exclusive) schools and universities they’d be attending.  I wonder whether that’s still the case in England.  In the US, upper-class families can generally count on their kids getting into a "good" school but even money and "legacy" status can’t guarantee admission into a specific one.  Class may have as strong an effect as in the past, but it operates through the "meritocracy."  (Although even in the 70s, one of the upper class students complained that the documentary didn’t show any of the work involved in getting into the schools that he was expected to attend.)

I’m up to 28 Up now, and am looking foward to the rest. (They’re on DVD through 42 Up — 49 Up was filmed this spring.)


Friday, July 8th, 2005

I’ve been looking forward with cautious optimism to the movie of V for Vendetta.  It’s based on the book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd, the first graphic novel I ever read.  It’s set in a totalitarian near-future England (well, the 1990s were near-future when it was written), and is about freedom and imagination and loss and love and history and hope.  And the hero is a terrorist.  (The WarnerBros website delicately refers to him as a "vigilante.")

Lis at Riba Rambles wonders how the message of the first teaser poster (People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.) is going to go over in the current political climate.  It’s a good question. I’m suddenly realizing that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to handle a movie in which the Houses of Parliament are blown up in the first five minutes. 

The violence in V for Vendetta is pretty much all aimed at agents of the state and at symbolic buildlings.  If innocent bystanders are killed in the process, you don’t see their broken bodies.  I wonder how the movie makers are going to handle this — and I think they’re damned either way.  If they don’t show it, they’re whitewashing terrorism; if they do show it, they’re glorifying it.

Remember, remember the fifth of November / Gunpowder, treason and plot. / I see no reason / Why gunpowder treason / Should ever be forgot.

The movie is being released in November, for the 400th anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ plot to blow up Parliament.

Star Wars

Friday, May 20th, 2005

We showed Star Wars to D this week.  He’s still a bit young for it, but T has been waiting for this since he was born.  If you asked T what he was most looking forward to as a father, watching Star Wars with his child was pretty high up on the list.

It’s not exactly a subtle movie, so D quickly caught on that the guys in the white armor were bad (except for when the good guys are pretending to be bad), and the guy in the black suit was really bad.  He loved the lightsaber duels and the x-wing fighters and only really got scared during the trash compactor scene.  So now his fantasy games include such crossovers as the Powerpuff Girls v. Darth Vader.

We haven’t seen Episode III yet.  T isn’t sure he wants to see it, having been so badly burned by Episode I.  I’m willing to give it a shot, based on the reviews I’ve been hearing, and if I’m going to see it at all, I want to see it on a big screen.  (Neither of us saw Episode II.)  Maybe when the lines die down at the Uptown