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.