Sunday, July 08, 2007

Movie watching

Between borrowings from the library and a couple of days when Trillian and I could get away at the same time, we've seen four movies in the past two weeks--two of them in the theater! They have run the gamut from drama to family entertainment to comedy.

One of the movies we borrowed was Brokeback Mountain. In some ways I felt a sense of obligation to see it, because of the whole gay thing. And so Trillian and I put it in the PS2 (still need to replace the broken DVD player) one evening when I had little work to do. The beginning was a little slow, but the scenery and music sucked me in. And even though I read the short story it's based on a couple years ago and knew how things would unfold, I found the storytelling completely enthralling.

As I often do while watching a movie at home, I looked through the IMDB entry. One of the trivia items: "According to reports, Heath Ledger nearly broke co-star Jake Gyllenhaal's nose while filming a kissing scene." This gets at one aspect of the acting that really came through in the movie: the two leads did not hold back in any way. The desperation and desire between the two characters is palpable. And I really appreciated what I read in the interviews. So often, actors who find themselves in the position of "playing gay" will mention how uncomfortable they were with love scenes or that they had to drink a little before filming to loosen their inhibitions. Everything I read from Ledger and Gyllenhaal addresses the circumstances of the characters in a respectful and insightful manner and never ventures into the "ick" territory.

Moving to the film we saw with Scooter. Since school was closed on July 2, Trillian decided to sneak away with us to a midday showing of Disney/Pixar's Ratatouille. While it may not have been Scooter's idea of a great movie, I enjoyed both the storyline and the animation--although I still was a bit grossed out at the idea of a rat cooking. It served as a reminder to Trillian and me, however, that movies in the theater will probably not be Scooter's thing for quite some time--Cars last year happened to be the perfect confluence of subject matter and story, something unlikely to be matched for a while. He was scared by a good deal of it and spent much of the movie hiding behind me so that he could watch from relative safety. He's very sensitive to the way movies set the mood through music and lighting, so even some of the not-truly-scary parts worried him; since we are dealing with rats and sewers and the like here, many of the scenes were on the dark side, automatically making him wary.

The other movie Trillian and I saw in the theater was Evan Almighty. We both really like Steve Carell and thoroughly enjoyed Bruce Almighty several years ago. The movie has its truly hilarious moments, and Wanda Sykes has some of the funniest lines (though I think you could have her deliver the saddest of news and still have people laughing). But the "big message" of the movie ended up being a bit much for us. Now it's been a long time since I saw the first movie, so maybe I'm just not remembering, but it seemed to me that there was less of a religious aspect to the storyline. The other possibility is that for Trillian and me our atheism has become a much more conscious belief. We've always felt this way, but have recently spent some time reading about religion and atheism, so we may just be more aware of how much the movie was using the religious aspect.

This similarly affected our recent viewing of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. For this movie, there is a much deeper personal history, however. I first read the book when I was 6-almost-7. Loved it. Loved the magical element, the escapism, the talking animals, the triumph of good over evil. Not having had any religious education at that time, the analogy of Aslan as a Christ-figure never crossed my mind. My father explained it to me at some point after I'd read the book (which I followed with the rest of the series). I refused to believe it at the time, but had to acknowledge Lewis' use of religion when I came to know more of the Bible. And I haven't read any of the Chronicles of Narnia since.

But I really did want to see the movie. In part to capture that magic of my childhood, in part because I'm a bit enamored of Tilda Swinton and have thought all along that she was the perfect choice for the White Queen. And so, despite the little voice in my head that had some things to say about Aslan and his sacrifice, I was mostly able to let myself get carried away into the fantastical world of Narnia. This is CGI at its best: gorgeous scenery and a mix of real and imagined creatures who blend together seamlessly. It's not all flash either, as the children did an excellent job (Lucy was cute as a button to boot) and Swinton was everything I'd expected and more. It makes me want to read the books again.

And now back to the real world and the mountain of planning that awaits me for the week.


bubandpie said...

I've found myself aghast/amazed at the concept of what the message to Evan Almighty could possibly be. Is the flood sent as a fun thrill-ride for the whole family? Or a parable of environmental destruction? I haven't made my mind up about seeing that one yet.

The actress who played Lucy is indeed wonderful - she also played the young Jane in the first couple scenes of the recent BBC Jane Eyre, which drew me in immediately.

kgirl said...

oh, i love brokeback mountain. i've only seen it once, but i've been thinking about it again lately - i should get it from the library too - good idea!

as for the rest; i'll probably take a pass (although i liked bruce almighty too.) if i go see my first (theatre) movie in almost a year, i'd like to make it knocked up or sicko. chris and my bff are gunning for transformers, tho.

Aliki2006 said...

I really liked Chronicles, too and have the same love for the books. I was so happy to see the magic preserved in the film.

Tilda Swinton as the White Witch is a dead-ringer for my somewhat psychotic department chair so that interfered a bit with my appreciation of her in that role. :)

Mouse said...

Aliki--I would find the White Witch as department chair quite scary, especially if it includes the sudden mood swings and all.

Kgirl--I loved "Knocked Up" and would definitely suggest seeing that. And even though it's a pregnancy movie, so some parts are bound to hit you differently than the rest of the audience, the conflict all comes from personal relationships instead of any horror in the pregnancy itself.

B&P--I think one of the problems with "Evan Almighty" is that it tries to be 'big message' at the same time it adds in a bunch of small messages--and I'm not sure which it thinks is most important. And some of those pieces are entirely predictable. (Father who doesn't spend enough time with the family? Hmm, wonder how that'll play out.)