Category Archives: Film

I am Legend (the movie – not me personally)

I initially passed on this movie because I read a couple of bad reviews.  Well, there’s one sure cure for being overwhelmed a few days before Christmas – go see a movie with lots of zombies!

And I thoroughly enjoyed it.  The reviewers I read complained that the action stopped midway and there was too much talk.  While I’ve heard that may be the case with the "director’s cut," it’s not true in the version out in theatres.  I was scared witless by "Omega Man" in the 1970s, so it was a pleasure to repeat the experience with Will Smith.

And for the entire length of the film, I didn’t consider my career development strategy, my finances, simmering family issues, nada, nothing, rien, nychyvo – just a weed-overgrown NYC and my rising adrenalin levels.

Highly recommended for the stout of heart (and obviously not suitable for children, unless you want to stay up with them all the time for several nights).

The Lives of Others

While I watch lots of movies, most of them aren’t worth mentioning.  However, there was an exception last week.

"The Lives of Others" is a remarkable film about life in 1980’s East Berlin.  In the almost 20 years since the Wall came down, we’ve forgotten how dreadful life was when the state held everything in its hands – your life, your dreams, your relationships, everything was the state’s to bestow or snatch away.

Rent or borrow this film – and remember how much so many suffered.  And how tenuous a thing freedom can be.

Admired in One Place, Scorned in Another

Louis Malle’s "Phantom India" (L’Inde Fantome) was one of my all-time favorites in the 1970s, back when you had to spend seven hours in the Surf Theatre out on Irving Street in San Francisco to see it. 

Watching it on DVD is much preferred.  Filmed in 1968, it can come across as dated, idealistic, and patronizing.  You know, French intellectuals discover the beautiful poverty of rural India. 

At the same time, there’s an odd coincidence in the film.  Malle is enthralled by the careful, formal ritual of the Hindu religion, by precise movements, by ceremonies dating back thousand of years.  At the same moment that Malle was being so entranced, the repository of careful, formal religious ritual in Europe (and the United States) was beginning to throw all of its heritage out the window. 

What was so admirable to this left-wing intellectual when he found it in France, was utterly despised at home.

Into Great Silence

This film about La Grande Chartreuse is stunning. I haven’t finished watching it because I started too late in the evening for a 3-hour film.  Honestly, I didn’t move for an hour-plus.  (And I generally wander all over the place while watching DVDs.)  As you watch it, the silence focuses your vision and you just see more and more.  Find it and watch it.

Of course, you can always go to to learn more about the Carthusians.

The Nativity (the movie, that is)

Well, I enjoyed it.  I know all sorts of people have all sorts of theological and cinematic objections to it.  Maybe my expectations were lower.  I just watched it.  And it will probably inform my meditations with a new set of images – of a desperately poor people waiting for salvation, of what it must have been like to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, not to mention what the neighbors must have thought. 

And besides, it’s a movie – nothing more or less.

Two Movies in One Week

—and I enjoyed them both.  The first was "Nacho Libre," a comedy with some truly surrealistic moments.  If you don’t like seeing people thrown around in wrestling matches, you might give it a pass.  Otherwise, Jack Black and company give a fundamentally good-hearted time.  One of my friends was afraid it might be offensive to the church.  It wasn’t to me – but it depends on where your "offense-o-meter" is set to go off.  BTW, the orphans were adorable.

Last night was "The Devil Wears Prada."  Meryl Streep is fantastic.  Sitting in our miserable tiny-plex in St. Augustine, I was madly homesick for Manhattan for several minutes.  Then I remembered how absolutely frazzled I was when I lived there and what the streets smelled like on a hot day.  At the same time, I do miss the high energy and the sense of being where things were always happening. 

Some people think the fashion industry is a crock.  Well, if you live in NYC, you know it’s about lots of money and lots of jobs.  And having spent several years among librarians (in whose midst I was a comparative fashion plate), I think looking good is terrific.  Looking like you’re stuck in grad school for the rest of your life is not my idea of "cool."  Yes, I was thrifty and knew where the good stuff from the rich school moms showed up on resale.  But I think better when I’m better dressed.

Of course, in St. Augustine we don’t have a lot of energy and my black suits went away several years ago.  And I love the opportunities I found here and the pleasant folks.  But sometimes, I just wish …

The cure for this is simply a trip back up to New York twice a year.  So I better stop wasting time on this nonsense and get back to work.

Happy Independence Day to all – fashion-conscious or fashion-challenged!

I’m Going Over

The Hedge, that is!  Seeing this bit of animation today is actually not that great a burden for me because I’m a sucker for cartoons.  I’ve also grown tired of the mandatory sex scenes (MSS) in many other movies that might otherwise be interesting.  One "mob movie" I saw years ago felt compelled to plug in a girl friend so the hero could hop around in bed with her.  She added nothing to the plot, was completely unbelievable – but hey, they hopped around.

Consequently, I end up at animation, an occasional action film where they just can’t find a place for the MSS, or at home watching oddball things I get from Netflix.  And it’s really a shame because I love sitting in a large dark room with folks I don’t know and eating popcorn which had a 5000% markup.  It’s part of the American experience.  And they are days I truly miss John Wayne, Audrey Hepburn, and Cary Grant.

Two Performances

In the last few days I’ve seen two performances.  The first was the PBS Great Performances broadcast of a concert version of "South Pacific."  The second was the film "United 93."  Very different topics, times, and genres.  Both were about love and courage and war.

Opus Dei, Time Magazine and More

Head Over to Professor Blosser’s Blog  for a fantastic article.  Here’s a representative paragraph:

What I am trying to get at here is a dimension of Catholic piety and devotion that has been practically submerged over the last thirty or forty years in the McDonaldization of American Catholicism. Catholicism in modern America has become, in large part, innocuous. It tends to be easy, upbeat, convenient, and compatible. There are few Holy Days of Obligation other than Sundays anymore — and our Sunday Mass obligation can be fulfilled Saturday evening so that Catholic men can go golfing like everyone else on Sunday morning. Catholicism doesn’t require much in the way of self-sacrifice, discipline, humility, a zeal for souls, an other-worldly outlook, or a fear (as opposed to a superficial love) of God. The movie Dogma portrayed Jesus as our ‘Buddy Christ.’

It used to be that Catholics had to fast from midnight Saturday until they received Communion at Mass Sunday morning. That fast has now been reduced to one hour before Communion. There is little guilt in Catholicism and virtually no fear of punishment, and everyone is virtually assured of going to heaven. What’s to fear? Who goes to confession anymore? Whatever became of sin? If none of these things matter, furthermore, why trouble oneself to go to Mass at all? The music and homilies are pretty bad anyway.

Great Movie Coming – but probably not where I live

Sophie Scholl – Go here to learn more about this great film!  And be reminded that there are movies that aren’t dreck out there.  The website for the film is beautifully done – and for those of us who live outside the big metro areas, it’s probably all we’ll see until there’s a DVD.

My apologies for not doing anything for the last several days.  I’ve found myself with way too many projects in process.