Sunday, August 21, 2005

Movies, movies, movies

Wednesday night we finally watched Lost in Translation. We actually rented it once before but every time we tried to watch it we were thwarted. That's happened to me twice with Wait Until Dark and I've still never seen it! Anyway, it's a great movie. Way better than Sofia Coppola's other movie, The Virgin Suicides. I hated that thing.

Bill Murray is so awesome. He could've just been "that guy from Ghostbusters" for his whole career, but I'm glad it didn't turn out that way. I loved him in Ed Wood too, but then I adore that whole movie.

Thursday night we watched Top Secret. When I was about nine I was friends with a girl who liked that movie and talked about it a lot, but I never saw it until this week and I wasn't overly impressed with it. Maybe it would've been better if I was nine. The thing I enjoyed the most was all the extremely dated references, especially to things that don't exist anymore, like Montgomery Ward and East Germany. Also, Val Kilmer was like 12 in that movie. What happened to him anyway? He's practically disappeared from movies.

Friday night we watched Cradle Will Rock, which was pretty good. They don't make very many rabble-rousing "Union Yes!" movies anymore, but I guess it's not surprising that if someone was going to make one, it would be Tim Robbins. I'm beginning to suspect he's kind of liberal. The movie is a somewhat fictionalized account of a production of a very pro-labor musical called The Cradle Will Rock that was nearly put on in 1937 by the Federal Theater Project, which was part of the WPA. The Project was shut down by Congress when it was suspected that they had been infiltrated by Communists, and the government sent armed guards to shut down the play. Fortunately, the play's producers were John Houseman and some guy named Orson Welles, who wasn't a big fan of people telling him what he couldn't do and who was about 21 at the time, so he hadn't yet taken on Hearst and lost. The show did go on, performed in an ultimate act of guerrilla theater, and if the true story is anything like how it is in the movie, I'm surprised the incident isn't common knowledge. Oh, Bill Murray is in this movie too. Everyone is in this movie. Tenacious D is in there too.

After that we watched The Last Temptation of Christ, which I guess makes Friday night "Movies My Parents Would Hate Night". Hey, those are usually the best movies. This movie really knocked me out. I understand why some people were upset by it, because those particular people really enjoy being upset by things and really don't enjoy people asking questions or trying to have an intelligent discussion about the fragile, spun-sugar web of beliefs they've constructed and built their lives on. In Catholic school they drill it into your head that Jesus was supposed to be both fully God and fully human (good ol' 200% Jesus, the kids in his neighborhood surely called him), but then they totally freak if you suggest that he might have had human thoughts and impulses.

Long before the movie was released back in 1988, there was a huge controversy about its content and my parents received countless newsletters about how horrible and blasphemous it was. I was fascinated by all of it and read everything I could about it. My parents were so proud of me because I was such a good citizen, staying informed about the things Hollywood and Universal Pictures and that awful Martin Scorsese fellow were saying, but really it was my first exposure to anything that even mentioned ideas that were outside my parents' fundamentalist beliefs. Those crappy newsletters weren't a very good information source, but in a roundabout way they pointed me toward good discussions elsewhere. I got to read some interviews with Scorsese and Willem Dafoe discussing their feelings about the material and it started me on the path toward not inheriting my parents' uninformed, reactionary dumbassitude. Thanks, poorly Xeroxed newsletters!

After all this time, I still hadn't seen the movie. I figured I'd like it, but I didn't realize how effective it really is and how the elements that really should have been controversial were never mentioned by the film's opponents, probably because none of them ever bothered to see it. Now if I ever meet Martin Scorsese, I'll go nuts gushing over this movie and I'll probably totally forget until later that I also really like Goodfellas. The DVD is a Criterion edition, so there's a commentary track and other goodies on there too. I won't have time to watch it before we have to return the DVD, but it's on my "To Buy" list now anyway. Note: Bill Murray is not in Last Temptation, presumably because he was busy being in Scrooged.

Saturday afternoon I watched Bend It Like Beckham while I folded a mountain of laundry. It's a cute movie, sort of similar to My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It has a great soundtrack, as does Sky High, which we just saw tonight. Good times, good times.


  1. My mom watched Last Temptation to see what the fuss was about when it first came out on video. She found the movie so boring that she fell asleep! Then she sat me down and talked to me about the nature of controversy, and how when fundies protest something it only gets that something more money and more attention. She even wondered if the huge protest was manufactured to raise what would have been a relatively small art movie into the public's consciousness.

  2. We also saw Showgirls for the same reasons. Also found it very boring (Though now I have the VIP edition with the commentary track. Best. Ever!)

  3. I remember when we rented Showgirls! That was hilarious.

    Last Temptation is definitely an art movie, not a summer blockbuster type. I didn't find it boring at all, though I can see how it probably would be to a lot of people. I also appreciated how much more effective the violence was in this movie than in The Passion of the Christ, which fetishized the torture to the point where it was ridiculous and you started focusing on the special effects.

  4. I have absolutely no desire to see the movie. Father Kelly's crusifixtion lecture was plenty, thanks.