Posts Tagged ‘ movies ’

Magnolia, Minus Frogs [PotD]

The title is a reference.Β  If you know it, you are cool.

The Day the Earth Stood Still


Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS

Last night Ben and I went and saw the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still.  I have never seen the original, so I didn't know what to expect, but it had Keanu Reeves in it (as an alien, which requires no emotion, so we figured he might actually do well) and it was about aliens, so we had to see it.

I ended up liking it a *lot* more than I expected to.  I just read a brief synopsis of the 1951 version of the movie, and from what I can tell, this is a similar creation, but in a modern and perhaps more profound language.

Plot Summary
The US government becomes aware that there is a large space object heading directly for earth and so gathers together the best scientists to try to help avert the situation.  Helen (Jennifer Connely) is an astrobiologist.  She studies microbiology, theorizing about other planets. Anyway, as they all brace for impact they notice that nothing happens.  No great tragedy.  Instead, a bright light slowly decends over New York City, and eventually a globe of swirling light lands in Central Park.

Helen is at the scene, and when the alien walks out of the "ship" she walks towards him.  Just as they are about to reach out and shake hands, one of the many military soldiers there shoots the alien.  His alarm system, a giant robot that shuts down all electricity in the area, comes to his defense, ready to destroy the military, until the alien whispers something that makes him shut down.

The government is first and foremost concerned with finding out if there is going to be an attack on planet earth, and the fear guides them.  It's clear that almost everyone in this film is guided by fear and the need for security.  It turns out that the alien, Klaatu, has come representing a leauge of alien civilizations coming to assess the threat of humans to the planet earth, and if necessary, to exterminate them.

One of my favorite scenes is when Klaatu comes to a McDonalds, where he meets with an old Asian man who happens to be an alien who has lived on the planet for 70 years.  He says that without question humans are a destructive race, and should be dealth with.  But then he refuses to leave the planet.  As destructive as we are, there is something about us.  Life for a human is hard, he says, but there is another side.  He can't explain it, but somehow, he loves them, and cannot leave.

Another part that I really love is when Helen takes Klaatu to a nobel prize winning mathematician's house (played by John Cleese), and Cleese's character asks Klaatu what the turning point for his race was.  Klaatu responds that their star was dying, and they had to evolve.  Cleese used this to make a point.  Yes, we are a destructive race, but it is always at the precipice, the moment of devastation when all seems to be lost…that is when we change.  Please, don't take this moment away from us, it is our moment, the moment of truth for our race.

And yet while seeing and hearing these things, those in power continue their actions out of fear, hunting the alien down, trying to destroy the robot that came with him.  And every time they do this, things get worse.

My Thoughts
And afterwards I was thinking about how incredible life is, because if you take these things together, every action we make out of fear and the need to protect ourselves makes things worse, but at the same time, when do we change? When things reach the brink of despair.

And so it's almost like salvation is built into the system, even in the darkest of times.  If you can relax and trust and love, that's great.  But even if you threaten or don't take time to understand and you act out of your reactionary mind…eventually you yourself, by your own actions, will make things so bad that it finally gets through to you.

At the end of the movie, Klaatu gives his life to save the human race, convinced that the good in us is worth saving.  And so he stops the device that had already wiped out much of our infrastructure and many of our people, but it comes at a price.  The destruction stops, but we are left with no electricity, no power.

And the reaction is brilliant.  The people stop.  Stop moving, stop struggling.  A moment of pure calm decends on everyone.  They open their eyes and just look at everything.  People in offices open the blinds and let the sun in.  To me it looked like they had opened their eyes for the first time.  It's a profoundly beautiful moment.

Of course, I suspect that the moment will be short lived and that people will fall back into fear shortly enough, but while it lasts, it's so beautiful. 

I think that's what gives me hope beyond anything else.  Not that the bad times make you stronger, it's not about that.  It's that even *through* the bad times, it's like there's some sort of aim of existence to bring us to the light, by whatever means possible.  Every single moment is an opportunity to stop fighting and be still, to open our eyes for the first time.  And each moment that we don't take it, we build up towards a tragic moment where we finally can see it.

It doesn't erase the tragedy, but I definitely feel that it gives the tragedy a kind of purpose and that perhaps there may even be, at the heart of existence, something motivated simply by love.

β€œHope consists in asserting that there is at the heart of being, beyond
all data, beyond all inventories and all calculations, a mysterious
principle which is in connivance with me, that cannot but will that
which I will, if what I will deserves to be willed and is, in fact,
willed by the whole of my being."

– Gabriel Marcel

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

The Fall

Nope, I'm not talking Camus.  I'm talking Tarsem.

Last night I went with a friend of mine to see The Fall, a movie done by Tarsem Singh, the maker of The Cell.  Now, I wasn't a huge fan of The Cell, beautiful movie but weird as hell, and I wasn't really all that good at analyzing movies at the time, so I didn't get much out of it.

For this movie though, I had high hopes.  Why?  It has the same sort of surreal and fantastical look to it, but the story is very straightforward and beautiful.  The real world half of the story may have been a little predictable, but I forgive that because of how emotional it was.  My friend complained of being hit over the head with the message, but I think it really worked.

The movie centers around a little immigrant girl named Alexandria who has fallen and broken her arm and is staying at a hospital.  The movie follows her, and everything is seen basically from her perspective.  By chance she meets a man at the hospital, Pushing Daisies' Lee Pace, who has also fallen and injured himself.  He starts telling her a story about five bandits who are out to kill the evil Governor Odius.  What she doesn't know is that he's using the story to manipulate her into helping him.

The problem is that what he wants to do is kill himself.  Obviously he doesn't tell her that, but all the adults know he is suicidal.  There is a lot of talk of suicide and that's why my friend felt like she was being hit over the head with it.  But the reason I think it worked was because we were supposed to be seeing things through Alexandria.  And when you are a child dealing with issues way to adult for you to comprehend, no amount of hearing about them is going to make you understand.  You're slightly aware of these words and feelings floating around in some space, but it doesn't make sense and you kind of just keep chugging along kind of blindly.

At least, that's how my childhood often felt.

If this had been merely a story of how the light of a child saves the life of a man in despair, it would have been boring.  But it's much more complex than that.  It's almost more about her than it is about him.  I think it was a brilliant movie and was worth going to see.  If you don't get this in time to catch it in theaters, make sure you get a hold of it when it comes out on DVD.

Not to mention, the movie was absolutely breathtakingly beautiful, especially the way it wove the real world into the imaginary one with incredible tact and beauty.

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Book/Movie Announcement: The Fountain and His Dark Materials

Here we go folks!

Movie:  The Fountain, Darren Aronofsky

Synopsis:
Yesterday, today, tomorrow. Past, present, future. Through time and
space, one man embarks on a bold 1000-year odyssey to defeat
humankind's most indomitable foe: Death. Hugh Jackman plays that man,
devoted to one woman (Rachel Weisz) and determined to protect her from
forces that threaten her existence. His quest leads him to a Tree of
Life…and to an adventure into eternity. Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem
for a Dream
) directs, continuing his string of imaginative, involving
filmmaking with a tale alive with ideas and filled with astonishing
vistas. "Not many films can blow your mind and break your heart at the
same time, but this one will."

This film wasn't well received, but I think that's because it is difficult to understand.  And if it's difficult to understand, it might just be right up our alley. πŸ™‚

Extra Credit: The Orphanage, Guillermo Del Toro
It's still in theaters so it's not fair to make it the main movie, but GO SEE IT.  It's from the maker of Pan's Labyrinth, only it's *better.*  Yes, you heard me.  Go watch it and come back so we can discuss it!

Book: His Dark Materials Trilogy, Phillip Pullman

Synopsis:
From Amazon.com: These books are what the very best of Children's literature does. They
are entertaining and fanciful, yet they simultaneously challenge and
educate both the mind and heart. Like hot soup when you are sick, they
are "Good and Good for You."

"His
Dark Materials" are a great counter-point to the mindless fun of Harry
Potter and friends. Pullman's writing is educated and insightful, his
characters are real and multi-faceted. The series is packed with
adventure, ideas, beliefs, fantasy, talking armored bears, Texas
Balloonists, animals, gypsies, and just about everything else. The tone
of the series is serious, and as dark as the name implies.

"Chronicles
of Narnia;" "Prydain Chronicles;" "The Hobbit;" "Harry Potter;" "The
Time Quartet;" "Wind in the Willows;" and now…"His Dark Materials."
Philip Pullman, welcome to the club.

Controversy:

These books have caused quite the controversy, as they were written by an atheist, and the story is said to be very anti-religious.  Because of this, I think *everyone* should read them.  There's no use debating whether or not they are good or bad, or harmful or insightful if we don't know what we're talking about.  No matter where you fall theologically, these books are an exciting ride, and can lead to some pretty awesome discussion!

Note: Normally, we put it to a vote, but this round I have very little time, so I'm picking the book and movie selections based on what I'm already reading/watching.  I hope you guys don't mind, and I think they're decent enough choices that we can have some fun with them. πŸ™‚

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Magnolia

I *just* finished watching it.

I really, really liked this movie.  I'm not sure I fully get it with just one viewing, but the main message reads loud and clear.  Do not tell me this is just novelistic.  Do not tell me these things only happen in movies.

I'll probably post more on it later.  I just wanted to say how much I liked it. πŸ™‚

PS  Spoiler (highlight to reveal): I love the frogs!  How awesome is that?

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Book/Movie Announcement: Happy Death and Magnolia

Not too many people voted, but it's all good.  Not too many people participate either, but it doesn't matter.  I'd rather have quality than quantity, and boy do we have it. πŸ™‚

Here's the book for this round:

Happy Death

Albert Camus

"As the novel follows the protagonist, Patrice Mersault, to his victim's
house — and then, fleeing, in a journey that takes him through stages
of exile, hedonism, privation, and death -it gives us a glimpse into
the imagination of one of the great writers of the twentieth century.
For here is the young Camus himself, in love with the sea and sun,
enraptured by women yet disdainful of romantic love, and already
formulating the philosophy of action and moral responsibility that
would make him central to the thought of our time."

"An intriguing and entertaining study in characters going through
varying levels of crisis and introspection. This psychological drama
leads you in several different directions, weaving and intersecting
various subplots and characters, from a brilliant Tom Cruise, as a
self-proclaimed pied-piper, to a child forced to go on a TV game show
and the pressures he faces from a ruthless father."

Happy reading/watching! πŸ˜‰

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend

Voting Time!

I know it's been a while, but I like to wait until at least more than one of us have finished before we move on.  That said, it is now time to vote for the next book/movie!  As always, if you don't like the suggestions I put here (they're really more like idea starters) feel free to let me know what you *want* to read! πŸ™‚

Book Suggestions:

The Fall

Happy Death

The Children of Men

The Fall – Albert Camus
"Elegantly styled, Camus' profoundly disturbing novel of a Parisian
lawyer's confessions is a searing study of modern amorality."
Camus is one of the most famous existentialists…although he distanced himself from the movement at the time.

A Happy Death – Albert Camus
"As the novel follows the protagonist, Patrice Mersault, to his victim's
house — and then, fleeing, in a journey that takes him through stages
of exile, hedonism, privation, and death -it gives us a glimpse into
the imagination of one of the great writers of the twentieth century.
For here is the young Camus himself, in love with the sea and sun,
enraptured by women yet disdainful of romantic love, and already
formulating the philosophy of action and moral responsibility that
would make him central to the thought of our time."

The Children of Men – P.D. James
"Near the end of the 20th century, for reasons beyond the grasp of
modern science, human sperm count went to zero. The last birth occurred
in 1995, and in the space of a generation humanity has lost its future.
In England, under the rule of an increasingly despotic Warden, the
infirm are encouraged to commit group suicide, criminals are exiled and
abandoned and immigrants are subjected to semi-legalized slavery.
Divorced, middle-aged Oxford history professor Theo Faron, an
emotionally constrained man of means and intelligence who is the
Warden's cousin, plods through an ordered, bleak existence. But a
chance involvement with a group of dissidents moves him onto unexpected
paths, leading him, in the novel's compelling second half, toward risk,
commitment and the joys and anguish of love. In this convincingly
detailed world–where kittens are (illegally) christened, sex has lost
its allure and the arts have been abandoned–James concretely explores
an unthinkable prospect."

Movie Suggestions:

Children of Men
To go with the book, if we choose it.

Tsotsi
"Captivating audiences worldwide, this compelling story of crime and
redemption has earned countless awards around the globe. On the edges
of Johannesburg, Tsotsi's life has no meaning beyond survival. One
night, in desperation, Tsotsi steals a woman's car. But as he is
driving off, he makes a shocking discovery in the backseat. In one
moment his life takes a sharp turn and leads him down an unexpected
path to redemption … giving him hope for a future he never could have
imagined."

Magnolia
"An intriguing and entertaining study in characters going through
varying levels of crisis and introspection. This psychological drama
leads you in several different directions, weaving and intersecting
various subplots and characters, from a brilliant Tom Cruise, as a
self-proclaimed pied-piper, to a child forced to go on a TV game show
and the pressures he faces from a ruthless father."

Oh, and as an FYI, I haven't read or watched any of the above books/films other than the movie version of Children of Men.  πŸ™‚

Happy Voting!

Read and post comments |
Send to a friend