Heh folks, let's lighten things up a bit here and do some movie reviews. It’s been a while, so I’ve got a number to go through (in no particular order).
Rendition: *** Reese Witherspoon has come a long way since Legally Blond (which I LOVE). This is her most dramatic role, and she does it superbly. Meryl Streep is arguably the best actress alive, and she plays a marvelous self-justifying villan in this movie. The show poignantly raises the issue of “extraordinary rendition” which allows our government in “extraordinary” circumstances (which are ambiguously defined) to arrest and torture citizens (overseas of course) without due process. It’s also a good statement on the cyclical nature of violence. It’s brutal and hard to watch – but it needs to be.
Death at a Funeral: **** The single funniest movie I’ve seen all year! You have to see it twice because you'll miss a lot of the dialogue from laughing so hard the first time through.
Gone Baby Gone: ** A smart thriller with a super surprising twist. This is a brutal movie that is extremely hard to watch, especially since it involves a little girl getting kidnapped. But it raises, in a poignant and brilliant way, a very difficult ethical question. You’ll leave the movie debating this one (but I can’t tell you what the ethical question is without giving the movie away).Love in the Time of Cholera. A fascinating movie that finally gives a definitive answer to the age old question: Just how truly awful can a Hollywood movie be? [Hence zero stars... and I'd give it negative stars if they existed]. I can't think of a single redeeming quality to this pathetic excuse for a movie. The acting was so terrible I wonder if this was a failed attempt at a farce. The character development was non-existent. The producer offered the audience no reason to care about what happened to these uninteresting and unlikeable people. The show is packed with silly gratuitous sex scenes that you'd think were produced by a sex crazed 13 year-old boy. We walked out after an hour, and that was 59 minutes of pain I'd like to spare you. (Honestly, I started disliking this show 60 seconds into it). I ascribe unsurpassable worth to the producer, but unsurpassable worthlessness to this film.
The Bourne Ultimatum: *** Just a good old “how-will-he-get-out-of-this-mess?” thriller. About as good as a movie in this genre ever gets.
The Kingdom: ** Yes, another brutal movie that is hard to watch. It’s main value, I think, is that we can’t opt out of the violent tit-for-tat game of the world unless we become thoroughly disgusted with it and convinced of its futility. This movie will help move you in this direction, if you’re not already there. The very last scene of this (overly long) movie is positively brilliant.
Into the Wild: *** The true story of a well-to-do kid who left it all behind to “find himself.” He ends up dying in the Alaskan wild. Slow moving, but very well told. The layers in this film are incredible. I saw this story as a powerful commentary on the destructive deception of individualism. We’re conditioned to think that the way to find ourselves is by getting alone – when in fact, as this man learns, too late, “no man is an island.” We are our relationships.
Fried Green Tomatoes: ****+ Okay okay, so it's not a new release. But I just watched it for the fifth time last week and was reminded of how beautiful this movie is. Yes it’s a “chick flick” – but I also liked Notebook. Best movie on friendship ever made.
300: ** True story about Spartan valor against all odds. Totally gross, but it does a good job bringing viewers into the military society of ancient Sparta. You can either respect the courage of these warriors or disdain their stupidity for thinking that their willingness to slaughter and be slaughtered would make a lasting difference in history.
Greg Boyd, film critic at your service.