Sunday, February 10, 2008

Movies Seen

After Innocence
Everyone should see this documentary. Our criminal justice system is broken. People are exonerated years after conviction, and then simply released. Parolees have more services available to them than the exonerated. See their stories, and how they are working together to change this.

Alice in Wonderland (1985 TV)
I've always tried to like Alice in Wonderland, really I have, but it always has felt to me just a tad meanspirited. I read on a blog somewhere that this was the writer's favorite movie version so I decided to check it out. Of course now it's been so long since I saw that, I don't remember who put it into my head. I did like this better than others. I liked the music and all the cameos by tv personalities of the 70s. I especially liked Steve and Eydie as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and of course Sammy Davis Jr. as the caterpillar with a hookah. The girl was especially adorable when dancing with Sammy.

Everything is Illuminated
This was a book that I didn't finish in time for a library book group several years back. I meant to finish it, but as usual I felt swamped with other stuff and didn't get to it. When I heard it was made into a movie, I decided to just wait to watch it. I'm glad I did. I thought the book was ok, interesting enough, but the movie, well, the movie illuminated the subject with a more direct line to the heart. A young man has always been a "collector." Oddly, when some significant moment happens, he takes a material thing from that moment and bags it up. Apparently it began with his grandfather's death, and a bit of amber jewelry he saved from the bedside. When his grandmother dies, he saves the dirt that he should be throwing on her grave as a good Jewish boy. He goes to Europe to find the woman who saved his grandfather's life. We know this story from his translator in the Ukraine, who has learned something about the heart from this young man's journey. Together, they find the town that disappeared during the Nazi invasion. Together, they find a piece of both of their grandfathers' histories.

13 Conversations About One Thing
I think this is one of those movies you're supposed to like because it appears to be artful, but I don't know, I just can't get into the movies that have separate little stories that intertwine with each other. Unless it's Ursula LeGuin, I don't usually like books like that either. The characters weren't very likeable, weren't meant to be, I suppose. So eh...

Life Running Out of Control
Not just about genetically modified foods, but about genetic technology, such as the race by corporations to patent human genes. In India, activists work to bring diverse heirloom seeds back to the farmers after years of disastrous corporate manipulation. Scientists study how escaped genetically modified fish will affect native species. GM foods were rushed into the market, not scientists look at just what is happening as a result.

Forest for the Trees (German with English subtitles)
A young woman starts out in life with everything arranged. She's just finished college. Her daddy helps her move in, she has a teaching job. She tries so hard to fit in, find friends. She tries so hard to apply her teaching skills with all the latest techniques. She has little gifts for all her new neighbors. Yet for all her earnestness, no one is inspired to like her, not students, neighbors, or other teachers. As the viewer you cringe for her, but you can't really like her either. The ending, though, changes the movie completely. I take it the ending is symbolic, internal, not something that actually happens. It and the title reveal the character's major life question. You're left wishing you could find out what she's going to be like next...

When Stand Up Stood Out
A look at the beginnings of Steven Wright, Denis Leary, and Janeane Garofalo among others. Interesting. Self-involved, as comedians are. They didn't think much of the hordes that came after them, after their golden years, blamed the plethora of comedy clubs for the cookie-cutter comedians that came with the rise of clubs. I couldn't help but think of my first husband, and how he missed the rising tide of comedy, and tried making something of it when it was on its way back down.

I loved this modern telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story. The opening credits animation alone could be worth it. Reese Witherspoon as the delinquent child hood, well, you couldn't get better. Kiefer Sutherland as the big bad wolf aka I-5 killer, well, ok.

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