Just finished my 1st viewing of my favourite Christmas movie: “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”. Happy 30th anniversary, Griswolds!#movies
So my sis, wife and I went to Thank You For Smoking last night. Definitely a movie worth seeing. The movie follows the trials and tribulations of a tobacco lobbiest, and is entertaining, scathing, and more than a bit surprising.
Now, when I originally heard about this movie, I made the (natural, I think) assumption that it was going to be a scathing commentary on the tobacco industry. And it was definitely that. But it exceeded my expectations in that it also poked fun at the government, embodied by a rabid anti-tobacco senator from Wisconsin played by the always excellent William H. Macy, and the media, represented by an ambitious reporter portrayed by none other than Katie Holmes.
And the ultimate message of the movie surprised me even more. Rather than focusing on the evils of smoking, or the tobacco industry, it took the higher ground, focusing on the issue of personal choice. Through the actions of the ridiculous senator, and the words of Nick Naylor, our “morally flexible” anti-hero portrayed by a surprising Aaron Eckhart (yes, of The Core fame), the movie really speaks out against an apathetic public who is unwilling, or perhaps no longer capable of thinking for themselves. It implores people to inform themselves and to make their own decisions, and to guide their own children to do the same, rather than relying on the government or the media to do it for them. A message I think is long overdue.
But what surprised me the most is, in the end, I found myself rooting for Nick Naylor. For some reason, I just can’t help cheering for the underdog, even if he is representing the tobacco industry…
And on a totally unrelated note, I finally updated my list of Knitting Projects. I think it’s relatively complete, now…
Wow. So Lenore returned from Regina yesterday morning at around 5:00 am and opted to go straight into work, and so I decided to go in early, so we could bail out from work around 2:00 pm. That evening we then proceeded to rent a few movies, two of which were 1-day’s, so we had to watch them right away.
Well, the first movie was “Dreamer”. Think Seabiscuit, but with a little girl instead. Or, put another way, a chick flick with a horse. But, hey, it wasn’t “She’s the Man”, so I can’t really complain. And it had Kris Kristofferson … and, really, how can you go wrong with Kris Kristofferson?
The second movie was “Domino”. Now, I don’t know if it was because it was late and I was tired (we started the movie at 10:00, and I’d been up for 16 hours by that point), but “Domino” must be one of the worst attempts at a stylized action movie I’ve seen in quite some time. Plot? Atrocious… so confusing, I don’t think the writers knew what was going on. The “style”? Horribly distracting. In retrospect, the reason I found the movie so confusing may have been from the epileptic seizures the visuals were triggering. Frankly, I think the only purpose of this movie was to show how awesomely badass Keira Knightley could be. The problem is, she was really not that awesome at all… in fact, she was pretty terrible.
But, in the end, I think the real question is this: why didn’t I just stop watching this movie?!? I just kept watching and watching, even though the movie went from scene to scene delving deeper and deeper into realms of suck rarely visited, let alone depicted in film. I could have made it all stop, but I didn’t. I let myself down. And for that, I apologize to me.
Jebus, it’s been a a while since I last wrote… which is probably good. It’s not as if there aren’t enough blogs filled with the incessant, ceaseless rantings of the uninteresting. Like me!
Anyway, last night after our 23km walk (by the way, the Edmonton River valley going east from the Kinsmen is a wicked hard walk), we decided to watch the movie ‘Crash’. Now, there are a few movies which I’d put at the very top of my list of all time:
- Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb
- Apocalypse Now
- Clockwork Orange
- The Matrix (yeah yeah, piss off)
‘Crash’ may very well end up somewhere on the list.
On the surface, the movie is an incredibly intelligent and insightful look at racism in the 21st century. It’s organized as a series of small narratives about a wide variety of characters, from a poor Persian store owner to a rich black television producer, with the various stories intertwined to one degree or another. Unfortunately, with a narrative structure like this, I’ve seen previous movies fail because they cannot fully engage the audience (since they only see the characters for small portions of time), or because the audience has difficulty following the various narratives. This movie, however, succeeds on both points, creating a range of characters that are interesting and memorable, with whom the audience can truly connect.
Now, as I mentioned, racism is clearly the primary subject matter of this film, and it deals with it in an incredible variety of forms. But the movie goes further than that: the characters in this movie, while demonstrating clear racism, aren’t simple caricatures. The film makes an effort to examine the underlying reasons behind the various prejudices held by the characters. Moreover, these characters are allowed to change and develop. Particularly interesting is the pairing of racist and non-racist, such that by the end of the movie, the racist character is allowed a moment of redemption, while the non-racist character begins to descend into predjudice.
But, I think the movie also has a deeper message. In a film like this, it would be all too easy to depict the racist characters as somehow getting their ‘just deserts’, while the non-racists are somehow rewarded for their good behaviour. Not so in this movie. The world is depicted as a place of damnation and redemption, and the people, while imperfect, are equally capable of hate and love. Thus, despite the subject matter, this is probably one of the most positive movies about the modern world I have seen in a very long time, with one clear message: that, for all of us, there is hope.
As if this weren’t all enough, the writing in this film is fantastic, and the acting is absolutely superb. The cinematography is also excellent, beautifully capturing the various urban environments that occur in the film.
So… yeah, if you haven’t seen this movie, I implore you to check it out. You won’t regret it.
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