Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

It’s Easter Sunday, arguable one of my favorite days of any calendar year, and I spent the evening watching SoutheastThree Crosses Christian Church’s Easter Pageant. (For images, go here.) Keep in mind, I can be a little biased about this drama, having been in the pageant twice before–once as a townsperson and once as an angel. Also, both my niece and my brother-in-law are in it this year. So you might think it’d be hard for me to be objective. However, balance that with the numerous bad reviews I got from several people who saw it before tonight, my 12-year-old daughter included. (more…)

Read Full Post »

My daughter and I watched the best movie I have ever seen the other night. “The Freedom Writers,” starring Hilary Swank, tells the story of a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of her freshman English class. While we’ve all seen movies of this genre, this one moved me in ways other movies haven’t.

Erin Gruwell (Swank) is a first-time teacher at an inner-city school where the other educators just don’t care. Gruwell’s classroom is filled with students who have grown up with hard-core racist attitudes, gangs, and violence and have no respect for her or even for each other.Freedom Writers

However, Gruwell manages to teach these supposedly unteachable freshmen by introducing them to the Holocaust and giving them the chance to express themselves about it and about their own lives. At one point in the movie, Gruwell asks her students, “How many of you know what the Holocaust is?” No one raises their hand. Then, “How many of you have been shot at?” Virtually everyone in the classroom raises their hand, to Gruwell’s astonishment.

Like I said, this movie moved me. But it also moved my 12-year-old, rather matter-of-fact daughter. She, too, had never heard of the Holocaust, and she, too, was stunned by what she learned in this movie. As was the case when I took her to see “Juno” (see my review here), I had a momentary hesitation where I wondered if this was appropriate for her to view. However, I’ve realized she’s growing up fast and she has very little appreciation for how others who don’t share her lifestyle live. I’ve been attempting to educate her about the rest of the world via volunteer work at a day shelter for homeless men and by participating with her in my church’s “service worship” experiences (where we one Sunday each month go out into the community and serve our neighbors in new and different ways). I discovered the other day that movies like this are very effective at reaching her as well.

In a two-hour period, my daughter has been introduced to the Holocaust and to the struggles of troubled teens in the inner city. During the movie, I asked her if she understood now why I’ve suggested to her when she talks about a mean student at school that they might be struggling with something that makes them lash out at others. She seemed to comprehend.

Rent this movie. Rent it today.

Read Full Post »

I Am Ashamed

Hotel Rwanda

YouTube Video of Movie Trailer “Hotel Rwanda”

What else is there to say?

Read Full Post »

I debated about whether to take my 12-year-old to see “Juno,” but I’m really glad I did. The story of a girl who becomes pregnant at 16 by her best friend who is not her boyfriend may seem a little mature for the middle school crowd. However, with the recent news splash about Jamie Lynne Spears’ pregnancy circulating through the halls of Barret TMS, I thought I’d go out on a limb.

I’m glad I did. Yeah, the movie did depict “the” sex scene, but it was done without obscene nudity. All you see are bare legs and his bare chest. The language has some teen-age-style sexual vulgarity, but most of it obviously went over my daughter’s head. Juno, played by Ellen Page, is the off-beat but confident eleventh-grader; her boyfriend, played by Michael Cera, is teen-age awkwardness at its best. Juno’s dry, straight-to-the-point sense of humor is hysterical and was enjoyed by mother and daughter alike. Her naivety and innocence are endearing. She’s made up of just enough cool to make you want to watch the movie and the perfect dosage of sensibility to make actually learning something from its message a sure thing.

The story line–like your “average” pregnancy–is so not typical. Juno faces numerous decisions throughout the film; it isn’t only about whether or not she will keep the baby. It’s about life, consequences, love, family, communication, and more. This isn’t a fairy tale flick: It isn’t all sweetness with a clean story line. Movie-goers get to see genuine parents reacting plausibly to their daughter’s ill-timed news, and you’ll witness Juno growing up fast in a world filled with complexities she couldn’t anticipate.

Again, these were big issues to introduce to my 12-year-old, but the movie theater offered a nice venue for broaching the subject of sex and teen-age pregnancy in a low-stress way. I told my daughter that I thought she should wait until she got married to have sex, but if she didn’t and she wound up pregnant, I would be there for her. I said she could come to me with anything, no matter how big and “bad,” and I would support and help her in any way I could. The nice thing was she really seemed to get it.

Read Full Post »

Had I read the reviews, I probably wouldn’t have chosen to see this sci-fi thriller about a scientist in New York City struggling to find an antidote for a cancer vaccine gone bad. But I love Will Smith, and I didn’t read the reviews. Therefore, I just spent 100 minutes gripping the edge of my seat in absolute terror as former Army scientist Dr. Robert Neville battles CGI humanoid monsters infected with a rabies-like disease.

Neville, who believes he is the last human on earth after a cancer vaccine rapidly destroys the earth’s human inhabitants, wanders the almost jungle-like streets of NYC looking for “Dark Seekers” he can bring home to test his antidotes on. With his dog Samantha by his side, he hunts herds of deer–which are pretty ridiculous CGI renditions, visits his local DVD rental store, and sends out daily AM-radio messages looking for other survivors of this holocaust.

While the special effects aren’t great–the CGI monsters and animals are fair at best–Smith’s performance is spectacular. He makes you believe he would actually be capable of surviving under these conditions. You feel his intense struggle with loneliness as he carries on conversations with both his dog and the mannequins he’s apparently placed throughout the DVD rental store he frequents. And his anger and frustration are real when he screeches through the city in his SUV mowing down rabid monsters. Smith’s facial expressions and body language are priceless.

The movie makes you think you’re going to fly out of your seat, sometimes when it’s just for things like Neville barricading his house in preparation for the nightly stalking of the monsters, but that’s part of the fun. You never know when something’s going to jump out and attack him.

Die-hard sci-fi thriller seekers would probably be disappointed in this film, but for the average movie-goer like me, you won’t regret seeing it. It’s definitely worth the $6.25 matinee price, and I’d even fork out $9.50 if I didn’t have to go home to an empty condo and try to go to sleep!

Read Full Post »

Two Good Movies

I’ve recently seen two good movies. The first is “Mr. Brooks,” a story about a serial killer (Kevin Costner) and his alter-ego (William Hurt) and how they struggle with a sickening addiction to killing people. There are obviously some “slasher” qualities to the film, but the story is very good, and the interactions between the main character and his alter-ego are intriguing. There are twists and turns in the plot, and you won’t guess the ending. I don’t usually watch scary movies, especially bloody ones, but witnessing the intricacies of Mr. Brooks’ horrible addiction is very interesting. I found myself liking his character, despite his despicable behavior. Go figure. Excellent performances by supporting actors Demi Moore (a police detective) and Dane Cook (a killer-wannabe).

The second one is “The Lives of Others,” a foreign film with subtitles about the German version of the CIA’s surveillance of a prominent German writer and how that surveillance changes the life of the Stali guy who’s spying on him. The movie takes place in the early 80’s, before Glasnost and before the fall of the Wall. It gives you a glimpse into the mentality of socialism and how it affects the German citizens and leadership alike. Be patient: It’s fabulous, albeit a little slow at the beginning.

Both movies are still among the new releases at Blockbuster.

Read Full Post »