Mamma Mia!, the film

Mama mia It's a rainy day here in Brockport, NY on Sunday, July 20, 2008 and the local Strand theater has Mama Mia, Hancock, and The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight started at 1:00 PM and Mama Mia started at 1:15 PM. I noticed that The Dark Knight got better reviews in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and so I chose that and lasted about 15 minutes. There was enough gratuitous violence in the first 15 minutes and the stupidest plot line I suffered in so short a period in a long time, I walked out thinking that Mama Mia couldn't be any worse.

So, I walked out of theater 3 and into theater 1 and was more satisfied. Mama Mia is corney musical, but the music by Abba and the acting by Merle Streep makes this movie. It is definitely a chic flick, and the women in the audience this afternoon outnumbered men by 2:1 and the men who were there besides me were there with a woman whom I am guessing dragged their reluctant husbands or boyfriends.

The storey line of Mama Mia is that 20 year old Sophie (Amanda Seyfried), the daughter of single mom Donna (Meryl Streep) who runs a bed and breakfast on a romantic Greek Island, finds her mother's diary and finds out that her mother had sex with three men around the time of her conception and she wants her father at her wedding. Unbeknownst to her mother Sophie invites her mother's former 3 lovers to the wedding. The fiasco that follows makes up the musical romantic comedy.

Overall, I enjoyed it, and would rate Mama Mia a 3 on a scale of 5.

The Dark Knight gets a 1 in my book.

Mamma Mia! (2008).

Home of the Brave, the film

Home of the brave Home of the Brave is a documentary about the murder of Viola Liuzzo who was killed on March 25, 1965 in Selma, Alabama as part of the civil rights march there from Selma to Montgomery.

The story is told from the perspectives of her five children. Viola was 39 when she was killed and was survived by her husband and the five children. It appears that the F.B.I. was involved and that an F.B.I. informant actually perpetrated the murder.

This documentary depicts the heroic efforts of a courageous woman and the effect her death and its circumstances has on her children.

I highly recommend this film.

Home of the Brave (2004)

A Good Baby, the film

A good baby Raymond Toker lives in Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. The family home has burned down and apparently his parents and a younger sister have died in the fire. An older brother, LeRoy, is doing time in state prison, and Raymond, a loner, is living in the root cellar next to the burned down house.

One day while out hunting, Raymond finds a baby abandoned, and tries to get several women to take it and raise it but they all refuse so Raymond keeps the baby himself.

This is an odd movie, but somewhat believable, and it casts a man in the role of being a nuturant, and protective parent which is quite different from how men are portrayed in our contemporary society.

I enjoyed this movie and it is quite different from the commercial schlock in the theaters this summer.

A Good Baby (2000)

Sweet Land, the film

Sweet_land The last couple of weeks, I have felt the urge to go see a movie and searching through the listings in Brockport and Rochester, NY, there is nothing but garbage. If films are any measure of our cultural literacy or pop culture, we sure are in trouble. However, I had the good fortune of renting a wonderful movie from Netflix made in 2005 entitled, Sweet Land. It is the story about Inge, a German mail order bride, who arrives in Minnesota in the 1920s to marry Norwegian, Olaf Torvik.

The creative tension in the film is derrived from the circumstances that Inge doesn't have papers to prove her nativity or citizenship and so cannot legally marry Olaf at a time with strict mores that governed the appropriate interaction between the sexes. At one point, Inge and Olaf are ostracized by the minister and the church for living in sin even though Inge slept in the house and Olaf slept in the barn to minimize scandal.

Overall, this is a lovely love story set in a historical time which was in some ways more simple but much more constraining.

Warning, there is no sex, car crashes, explosions, aliens, drugs, or obscene language. Further more, there is no loud music or hyper stimulating special effects. Therefore, this movie is recommended only for a more sophisticated and mature audience. For such an audience, I highly recommend Sweet Land.

Link: Sweet Land (2005).

Taxi to the Dark Side, the film

Abu_ghraib Taxi To The Dark Side won the 2008 Oscar for best documentary. It is the story of Dilawar, the Afghani taxi driver, who was tortured and killed by U.S. soldiers. The film traces the history of the torture policy, illegal, and against the Geneva Conventions framed by Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General, John Yoo, Defense Department Attorney, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and George Bush.

It makes me ashamed to be an American. This current administration has committed terrrible sins and crimes against humanity in our name. As a nation we need to repent, ask for forgiveness, and make amends for our crimes and sins.

Every American should watch this film. It will help you understand why the terrorism threat has gotten worse not better in the last 8 years. I highly recommend it.

Link: Taxi to the Dark Side (2007).

The Bucket List, the film

The_bucket_list Two guys Edward Cole (Jack Nicholson) and Carter Chambers (Morgan Freeman) meet in a hospital and both find out they are terminally ill and going to die. Carter Chambers explains to Edward Cole that a bucket list is a list of things you would like to do before you "kick the bucket." Edward is a lonely but very rich guy and he talks Carter into composing and completing a bucket list together. The two of them carry out this project and even though very unlikely friends become fast friends and both die with "their eyes closed and their hearts open."

The Bucket List, distributed in January, 2008 is a funny movie, poignant at times, flippant and yet serious. It drags at times and is vibrant at others.

Overall worth seeing. Probably appeals to older people who have faced or are facing their mortality than young people who are young enough to think they will live forever. This movie works because of the talent of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman otherwise it could have flopped big time.

I recommend it.

Link: The Bucket List (2007).

Notes on a Scandal, the film

Scandal Notes On A Scandal is an English film released in 2006 about a high school art teacher, Sheba Hart (Cate Blanchett), who has an affair with one of her 15 year old students. Sheba's older colleague, Barbara Covett (Judi Dench), develops a lesbian infatuation with Sheba and when she learns of the affair blackmails her emotionally into a relationship with her.

This is a movie which depicts complicated relationships in plausible ways and left me, once again, reflecting on the tormented, lonely, and twisted lives we live. Our attempts to avoid our loneliness by connecting with another human being in a special relationship temporarily fills up the hole in our souls but in the long run is misguided and ends in further heart break. This film is good at depicting what we should not do, but doesn't help much in pointing us in directions of what we should do.

This is a sad movie and the characters while perverse are developed in sympathetic ways. The viewer wants them to be happy, but it is hard to see how this is possible given the naive and dysfunctional decisions they make.

This film has been nominated for multiple film awards including Judi Dench for best actress and Cate Blanchett for best supporting actress by both the Academy and Golden Globes in 2007. I recommend this film for adult audiences.

Link: Notes on a Scandal (2006).

Once, the film

Once Once is an Irish film released in March of 2007 which is a modern musical about a buskar in Ireland who develops a friendship with a female Czech immigrant who also is a musician.

It is a delightful movie about their friendship and how they support one another. The creative tension comes from a romantic attraction which never becomes consummated because they both love another.

This is a low budget movie which has been nominated for several awards. It is a fiction film that works so well some viewers have mistaken it for a documentary. It raises the perennial question raised in the movie When Harry Met Sally, can a man and woman just be friends?

I recommend this film.

Link: Once (2006).

No Country for Old Men, the film

No_country_for_old_men A lot of people seem to like No County for Old Men, a movie directed by the Coen brothers, based on a novel by Cormac McCarthy, released in November, 2007, and it has been winning a lot of awards but, while entertaining if you like violent movies, I am not sure of its social worth.

It is the story about a Viet Nam vet Llewelyn Moss who, while hunting, stumbles upon a drug deal gone bad where several men and dogs are killed and he makes off with 2 million dollars to be hunted down by a psychopathic killer Anton Chigurh.

The wise old sheriff Ed Tom Bell played by Tommy Lee Jones has had enough of the carnage and killing over drugs and decides after seeing the slaughter that he is too old to be in this law enforcement game any more and decides to retire.

This could have been a great movie if it had focused more on the wisdom of elders as they reflect on the meaning of life derrived from their life time of experience, but rather this movie focused more on the titillating violence and the socially redemptive message is lost.

It is a shame that this movie didn't have a more morally and socially redemptive message.

If you like movies and are titillated by psychopathic killers stalking their prey, you probably would enjoy this movie, otherwise, it is likely to be disappointing.

Link: No Country for Old Men (2007).