Monday, September 10, 2007

Movies Seen

Me and You and Everyone We Know
Written and directed by Miranda July. Miranda July Miranda July why is that vaguely familiar? Oh, it's because she lived and done stuff in Portland, Steve tells me. The movie isn't filmed in Portland, but the script is littered with Portland names such as Laurelhurst Park and Burnside Street.
The dad who sets his hands on fire is John Hawkes. He was in Deadwood as the shopkeeper. These reviewers say more.

At first glance this is an emo movie. This reviewer thinks so, and doesn't get it. It's about the choice. There are two tragedies, but in the end I think the main character realizes his choice, emo despair or loving-kindness and the possibility of change in the future. The boy's decision to take the fall for his dad transforms his family. I've come across this theme before, how unresolved guilt can make you a better person. The book The Kite Runner is good for that.

A just-before-op transsexual finds out she's a dad. She still has unresolved issues regarding her parents, especially her mother, and must face them via being a parent. The actor is a she. I thought she looked familiar but didn't recognize her, Felicity Huffman from Desperate Housewives. Her therapist makes her face the family issue before she'll sign off on the operation. The movie becomes not one about changing one's sex, but a cross-country discovery of self and family, a rather classic theme.

The History Boys
This movie was so refreshingly foreign, that is not-Hollywood. The kids to be celebrated were the smart ones, not the rugby stars. The big build-up was about the group getting into Oxford or Cambridge, not winning the big game. The scenes denoting training weren't frantic punching bag scenes or run-run-run, but boys piling up books and checking them out of the library to cram more facts for their specialty in history. The teachers weren't that svelte Hollywood teacher type. The fat one wasn't a foil for a joke, and he was treated kindly by the boys for his somewhat foolish groping ways.

Jesus Camp
Rosie O'Donnell was ostracized for calling radical Christians the American Taliban. She was right. She never said all Christians. But see this movie, and you will agree there is an American Taliban, and they are in power. At a certain age, kids will blame themselves. These Jesus Camp people take advantage of that, and brainwash them in my opinion, and they are being trained to be very good at stream-of-consciousness verbal testimony. That can be very convincing, but it is a skill, not the voice of God. I found it interesting that the children who were most apt to find that weepy transformative place of the sinner being washed by Jesus were the ones with troubles at home.

Come Early Morning
Ashley Judd is so sexy in this movie as Lucy, though her character is not the sort of girl one wants to get hooked on. She can't have sex without drinking, or without it being a one-night stand. A man helps her get over that, but who expects that to work out? Of course her dad has something to do with her fear of intimacy with men. Her dad seemed familiar but I couldn't place him, Scott Wilson. He was an extraordinary guitar player, but too shy to play for an audience unless he was completely shit-faced (I quote) or was behind a curtain. He also slept around. He was very quiet and stiff, and it was difficult for Lucy to have an extended conversation with him. His character was quite similar to the Dad that Scott Wilson portrayed in the next movie I watched a day later:

Totally accidental. Funny how that happens, like those times you see a movie on one channel, and one actor is in another movie on another channel. Scott Wilson plays a man who is also close-mouthed and stiff, but less messed up. He holds things inside, but he's got his eye on people, and he knows what's up. Pretty emblematic of many of the characters in this movie, no doubt a character trait of the rural folks of the area. I wasn't sure I would like the movie at first, didn't like the main characters to start. I thought the art dealer wife was fake, and her studly man a trophy husband. Maybe that was the case. Definitely another not-Hollywood movie...the over-the-top things I expected as Hollywood would do, did not happen. Instead there are more subtle shifts in characters, glimpses of their inner workings. The art dealer's find, an artist who painted scenes of the civil war with penises as guns, was a hoot. Creepy, sorta autistic, and funny that was.

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