Media Review 3/17-3/23 II

Movies:

Chronicle: You can’t throw a rock in the movie business these days without hitting someone’s handheld camera.  I loved Blair Witch Project, never saw Cloverfield, and Paranormal Activity scared the crap out of me.  Then came the next two Paranormal Activitys, and Project X, and The River, and I was ready to say it’s getting out of hand; then I saw Chronicle.  And I’m still ready for Hollywood to stop pretending it’s low-fi, but this movie wasn’t made by a pretender.  Director Josh Trank is low-budget for real, and his focus is on the story and the characters and not on exploiting a trend.

Chronicle is the story of three high school students who stumble upon something in the woods that gives them the ability to move things with their minds.  It sounds like less than it is; I didn’t expect a movie this intense and this real.  The reason the movie is handheld is because Andrew (Dane DeHaan) has started filming his life.  The movie never tries to explain why, but Trank uses it to comment on a variety of timely issues: our addiction to social media, bullying, domestic abuse.  The three main actors fit their roles perfectly.  DeHaan has been compared to a young DiCaprio, and it’s an accurate comparison.  He’s moody and intense.  His foil is a charismatic, likable Michael B. Jordan as Steve, the class president, and their third partner-in-telekinesis is Andrew’s cousin, Alex (Matt Garetty).  Garetty will be the most underrated player here; his character is the least flashy.  But his insecurity and sincerity is real, and he’s the movie’s anchor.

Great movie- endlessly creative with very little, but always to serve the story.  Thank goodness for people who still let effects serve their stories and not the other way around.

One Day in September:  If you didn’t know that at the 1972 Olympics 11 Israeli athletes were held hostage by Palestinian terrorists, then this is a good movie for you to see.  It’s informative and interesting and provides all the particulars necessary to have a good understanding of the event.  However, I think this movie has some awkward sequencing, and it doesn’t quite capture the full impact of the event, even though it interviews many key players.  This lack of an emotional connection to the tragedy is a real flaw in this kind of movie.  If you want to truly wrap your mind around the effects of this event, then watch Steven Spielberg’s Munich, a great movie that gets far closer to harnessing the feel of the tragedy.

An okay movie- I recommend seeking out Munich instead.

Books:

House of Prayer, No. 2 by Mark Richard: I believe in a God that knows our lives before we’re even born, but it’s still hard to fathom that when faced with as full a life as Mark Richard’s.  Richard starts his life story from the start, chronicling his childhood with his parents in the American South.  People saw him as a “special child,” but he was really just smarter than everyone around him.  The doctors told his parents he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life due to bad hips, but he managed to walk long past that and travel America, becoming an acclaimed but financially unsuccessful writer.  He meets a wide variety of people who shape his life in countless ways.  The key to this book is that he tells it all in second person, forcing you to put yourself in his shoes.  It’s a good book, full of the stuff that makes up a man’s life.

Albums I Liked:

Season One by All Sons & Daughters:  I’m always open to alternative worship music sources, and I’m ready to embrace this duo from Tennessee.  There’s been a boom in honest lyrics in the worship music scene, and I’m thankful for that, but not many groups are turning those lyrics into dynamic music.  All Sons & Daughters are a great example of the range worship music is in need of.  It helps that their voices are interesting, both the guy’s and the girl’s.  The album is a little longish, but it’s worth seeking out.  Favorite songs: “All the Poor and Powerless” “I Am Set Free” “Buried in the Grave”

Wounded Rhymes by Lykke Li: Lykke Li is compared to a lot of artists: M.I.A., Santigold, ’60s girl groups.  But after listening to Wounded Rhymes, I can see she’s her own unique musician.  She’s like M.I.A. and Santigold, because she’s a female artist making dark, alternative pop music that draws from reggae and hip-hop, but she really doesn’t sound much like either of them.  Lykke Li is more content to embrace her softer side, more willing to be vulnerable, and by doing so, she’s created some great pop music.  Favorite songs: “Youth Knows No Pain” “Love out of Lust” “Unrequited Love”

Songs I Loved:

“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons & Daughters:  A good introduction to all All Sons & Daughters’s songs.  It starts out quiet, inviting “the lost and lonely,” “all who feel unworthy / and all who hurt with nothing left” to praise His name.  The song builds to an invitation to shout it out to the mountains and the masses.  The effect is hard to resist.

“Buried in the Grave” by All Sons & Daughters:  Here, once again, All Sons & Daughters show how they’ve mastered the worship build.  Start soft, crescendo to an emotional climax, lead us into true worship of the Son.  What sets this song apart is the reconciliation of Christ’s grave with God’s grace, showing us that “grace was in the tension of everything we lost /standing empty-handed, shattered by the cross.”  That and the sweet moment when the banjo takes the forefront.

“I Am Set Free” by All Sons & Daughters:  A moving reminder of the freedom that Christ offers us.  It builds much like “All the Poor and Powerless,” but the key moment in this song is in the first chorus and the first bridge, when the instruments cut out and the duo’s voices pulse with passion.

“Youth Knows No Pain” by Lykke Li:  This song is full of awesome hooks.  The backup synths, the handclap drums, the opening verse, “Come on get down,” and that sick chorus.  This is the best pop music that sounds like it’s sung by a sleepwalking girl since…ever.

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