Media Review Week 2/12-2/18

Welcome, faithful readers (aka mom).  I would like to write a post each week in which I can write about the movies and music I’ve experienced over the past week.  Maybe sometimes I’ll include TV shows and books I’ve finished.

I like looking at all this media I consume critically.  I enjoy being entertained, but I don’t see much point to my watching a ton of movies and listening to way too much music if the majority doesn’t make me think, and I don’t then apply it to my life..  So here will be where I put my thoughts!  Enjoy.

Movies:

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Thelma & Louise More than a great road movie and especially more than a great women’s buddy movie, Thelma & Louise pulls off something special.  Director Ridley Scott manages to shift tones seamlessly from scene to scene and even within scenes to create a movie that functions as comedy, drama, action, thriller, romance, and, in one scene, horror.  That you don’t notice the changes as you’re experiencing them is a testament to the skill of Scott and his cast.  Interestingly, Scott’s other great movies (that I’ve seen) are Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator, movies that really have one prevailing mood for the whole movie. Thelma & Louise stands out as a patchwork quilt of great genre movies.

Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon are thrilling to watch.  Geena Davis makes us believe the change in Thelma over the course of the movie, but she maintains her character’s naive optimism.  Susan Sarandon shows us the increasing desperation in Louise’s mannerisms, replaced later in the movie by a strong resignation to their plight.  Harvey Keitel isn’t very believable in his role as the cop pursuing the ladies, but Brad Pitt shines in a small role as a hitchhiker they pick up on their trip.

Great movie- not realistic, maybe, but it works as a fable for the seeming futility of women trying to make it in a corrupt world, a man’s world.

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Chariots of FireI enjoyed this movie.  Chariots of Fire is a fascinating character study of two British men preparing for the 1924 Olympics, one a Jew and one a Christian.  The Jewish man, Harold, is driven by the need to rise above the (sometime subtle, sometimes not) anti-Semitism in Britain and achieve something unexpected of him.  The Christian man, Eric, is driven by a desire to please God.  These performances aren’t flashy, but they’re effective.  Ben Cross as Harold sells his character’s need to prove something, and Eric’s quiet devotion is affecting.  When his sister objects to his decision to compete in the Olympics, Eric explains himself, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

It’s a joy to learn about these characters, and there is one race that is particularly exciting near the middle of the movie.  However, the movie runs out of steam at the end, and the final races aren’t as effective.  The movie is perhaps too studied and slow in its storytelling.  It benefits from the presence of Ian Holm (you may know him as Bilbo Baggins) as Harold’s coach.  He’s lively and spontaneous in a movie that could use some more entertaining characters.  Holm’s best scene is when he discovers that outcome of one of the matches and punches a hole through his hat.  You would have too.

Very good movie- as a sports movie, it drags near the end when it should be peaking.  But as a movie about why these men have to run, it’s fascinating.

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The Vow: Okay, okay, I know I shouldn’t have liked this movie.  Maybe I was taken in by the real chemistry between Rachel McAdams and Channing Tatum as Paige and Leo.  Maybe it’s because I went with my girlfriend.  Maybe I was just in a sappy mood that night.  Whatever the reason (and believe me, I’m confused), I really enjoyed this movie.

Tatum and McAdams do have chemistry, and unlike many mainstream rom-coms, The Vow has doesn’t settle for an easy outcome for its characters.  There are cliches, which I can deal with, and one-dimensional characters, which are to be expected, though all of them are secondary.  The reason The Vow maintains credibility is its commitment to the main characters and the key players in the plot.  Tatum’s Leo fights for his marriage in realistic ways, and McAdams’s reactions to her plight (while maybe not medically plausible) are believable.  Leo’s pursuit of his wife is the cornerstone of this movie.  It was an inspiration to me, and I hope other people see it and think about their own commitment.

Very good movie- forget the haters.  I’m sold on this movie, and you should give it a chance.

Albums I Liked:

Two Lefts Don’t Make a Right…but Three Do by Relient K: I know I’m late to the Relient K train, but ever since my girlfriend, Vicky, gave me their album Forget and Not Slow Down (which I love), I’ve been trying to listen to their older stuff.  I don’t usually like this pop-punk sound, but Relient K redeems it with great lyrics, a sense of humor, and creative arrangements.  Relient K wasn’t that great, but Anatomy of the Tongue in Cheek showed flashes of both musical and lyrical brilliance (see: “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, “For the Moments I Feel Faint”, “Failure to Excommunicate”).  Two Lefts doesn’t quite reach the heights that Anatomy did, but it stays high longer.  Favorite song: “Getting into You”.

Songs I Loved:

“Wedding Song” by Bob Dylan: I love Bob Dylan, and I’ve been trying to listen to his whole catalog over the last six months or so.  I just got to Planet Waves, his first full-length collaboration with The Band, another favorite of mine.  The album was just fine, but this cut is sublime.  It’s an ode to full-on commitment to love, even at the expense of one’s own self-destruction.  I’m not saying I agree with his sentiment, but the melody is haunting.  Married love doesn’t seem so cushy when linked to a song this open and honest.

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One thought on “Media Review Week 2/12-2/18

  1. Hey, it’s your mom. Gotta say I “enjoyed” “Thelma & Louise” years ago (as much as you can enjoy a movie with the ending it has). “Chariots of Fire” was a wonderful movie (and worth seeing again…I should watch it again some day), but you didn’t even mention it’s epic music! Can’t wait to see “The Vow”, if I can ever get your dad to go with me.

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