Archive for March, 2009

Movie review: The Passion of the Christ

Posted by seoulfully on March 31st, 2009

[Blu-ray | DVD]

So I’ve had a lot of Jesus in my life lately. Not so much that my life is all good and miracle filled, but I recently saw Jesus Christ Superstar and then Netflix decided any movie released in the past six months on blu-ray was just not available enough for me, so I got The Passion of the Christ over so, so many movies.

Let’s just start it all off by saying, regardless of his life views on whatever, Mel Gibson knows how to visually tell a story. Between this movie and Apocalypto [Blu-ray | DVD] he has put together a lot of amazing visuals. While the violence in this movie was graphic, I don’t think it was gratuitous. Well at least 99% of it.

I think this movies stands as a pretty compelling movie, even apart from the religious basis. I mean whatever you think of religion, the Bible is a book of stories and a lot of good stories at that. So the source material obviously is good stuff.

I had some problems with this movie though (to those who know me, surprise, surprise). I don’t think Jesus survives to the cross. Given how much physical torture the man is put through, I just don’t see him making it to the cross alive. I mean, sheesh, you could see the dude’s ribs. Not like he’s so skinny you can see his ribs, like YOU CAN SEE THE FUCKING BONES!!! THE ACTUAL BONES!!! Second big problem, huge problem is the resurrection scene. Let’s just say it everything happened like it happened in the flick (seeing as how this is supposed to be the most literal telling of the crucifixion story, more on this later). When Jesus is resurrected, he’s all better, but the holes in in hands remain! Why?! Every other wound (and there were some horrible wounds) are healed and gone. Like it never happened. But the holes, why? I just don’t understand it. Maybe there’s something that my Sunday school theological training hasn’t taught me, but seriously, if all can be healed, why not the hands?

Okay, other problems, based on this being the most literal telling of this story. For a literal telling, down to using the original languages and all of that, there was certainly a lot of the devil and spirits and all of that kind of stuff. My other problem with the movie isn’t so much with the movie, but the source story. So basically the “white” people (the Romans) recognized Jesus as holy and the “minorities” (the Jews) don’t? I realize it’s the story. And even in the movie, tons of Romans being terrible while there are Jews pleading for Jesus, but the basic opposing forces in the argument is the “white” people recognized special and wanted to follow the laws and the “minorities” were lawless, rioting people who wanted to kill the son of God. I’m sure a detailed history/examination of Christianity would probably explain a lot of it.

Moving on, so was the earthquake and storm the last act of an active God? I’m just asking. Because from Jesus forward we’re supposed to get to God via Jesus. And from between the Old Testament and the New Testament God went underground and wasn’t all showing off and whatnot.

And I guess as a last incendiary matter or two really. This movie just shows even more how much the institution of the church just distorts things and is self-serving. The pharisees and the church were threatened by Jesus so they did what they had to do to twist things and have the Romans kill him, even when apparently he did NOTHING that was against the law or anything that was worthy of a death sentence. I think this sort of thing went on then, goes on now, and went on in between. The church is a power position. And if nothing else, institutions in power want to REMAIN in power. Last point, I felt this watching Jesus Christ Superstar and again watching this movie, and I’m not saying Christianity is a cult, but you can see elements of it. Watching this story, it’s a charismatic leader saying he knows the answers, he tells the truth, that he is the path to enlightenment or heaven or whatever. And people following. Following to death (so they claim) and where ever else the leader leads. Even in the face of common sense and public opinion (not that either of these two things dictates truth). Just saying…

Anyways, back to the movie. Great acting. Great. Across the board, save maybe Herod. Hard movie to watch because of the graphic nature of the violence, but worthwhile to watch I think.

[Blu-ray | DVD]

This movie is just bad. Cheesy, bad effects. I don’t remember Indy movies being this bad. Just bad. I’ve been told some of my short reviews are bad, but this movie is just bad.

A better way to tithe

Posted by seoulfully on March 29th, 2009

In April’s Men’s Journal Bear Grylls give this little nugget of advice (well he gives plenty, but this one in particular):

I try to give 10 percent of what I earn to friends struggling with their mortgages or somebody who needs a really good holiday. That’s a rule I’ve always followed, and it’s been really good in our lives. Money is like water: If you don’t let it flow, it’s just going to get stagnant.”

I’m all for it. You can paypal me the money. But when/if I start making some bank, I’ll definitely do this. It’s better than giving 10% to some church or whatever to build a fancier church. Maybe not a tax write-off, but not like any kind of generosity or charity should be motivated by tax benefits.

Movie review: Elegy

Posted by seoulfully on March 27th, 2009

[DVD]

I think Netflix must have an exclusive on the blu-ray of this movie because I can’t find the blu-ray anywhere save Netflix. Not that I’d know since Netflix deems it necessary to Long Wait or Very Long wait any blu-ray in my queue that is relatively new. So HD on Netflix Watch Instantly it is.

How does Sir Ben Kingsley get to be in movies where he beds such younger women. I mean here it’s Penelope Cruz (though he also was with the great Patricia Clarkson). In The Wackness [Blu-ray | DVD] he got with whichever of the Olsen twins was in that movie.

I thought this movie was pretty good. I can’t speak to how true it is, but the situation feels true enough. An older man involved with various women, dealing with falling in love. The situation, the age difference, his life making him doubt the very life he’s created. You could buy that Penelope Cruz could actually love him and then be broken hearted by him. Not experiencing or dealing with the same issues he dealt with. Though another dead end love for her named David (see Vanilla Sky [DVD]).

I think Dennis Hopper and Peter Sarsgaard played pitch perfect roles of the lothario friend and the troubled son respectively.

Kingsley was great in this. The drudgery of his time post love, post friendship, kind of post life. They were all so subtle, all very deep, but all played out on the surface. The reappearance of Penelope’s character is a surprise and sad.

The pace of the movie really slows down in the third act. But I don’t think it’s a problem. It kind of fits the mood of the film at that point.

Movie review: Let the Right One In

Posted by seoulfully on March 27th, 2009

[Blu-ray | DVD]

I heard great things about this movie. Just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it was that I was preoccupied watching and not giving it my full attention. Maybe it was the subtitle problem. Or just didn’t fit my sensibilities. I just wasn’t entertained by this movie. It didn’t hold my attention at all. I think it’s a worthwhile movie to watch. And if the premise interests you, I think you should watch the movie. I won’t say not to watch it, but I won’t say TO watch it either.

Sky lantern

Posted by seoulfully on March 26th, 2009

I really want to go and witness this in my lifetime. And the northern lights. Both on my list. I’ve looked into buying some online, or maybe making some, and flying them myself at home, but (a) doesn’t look as cool and (b) it’s probably some kind of fire hazard. I actually have wanted to do something like this for a great part of my life, as I read about something similar in my childhood in the “The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists’ Club (Mad Scientist Club)”. Or maybe it was the original “The Mad Scientists’ Club (Mad Scientist Club)”. Whatevs. There was something like this in one of those books. And the in the Leo DiCaprio movie The Beach [DVD]. Anyways, want to see with my own eyes. Or at least my own eyes, my Flip Video Ultra, or maybe my (soon hopefully) Canon EOS 5D Mark II (or whatever camera I have with me at the time).

Movie review: Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden

Posted by seoulfully on March 26th, 2009

[DVD]

This certainly wasn’t Super Size Me [DVD]. It was definitely Spurlock’s kind of humorous, straightforward style. I find his style of filmmaking isn’t as baiting and edit based as Michael Moore. The movie was interesting. And I think Spurlock really covered a lot of ground and viewpoints.

However, the movie seemed sort of inert. It’s not like I expected Spurlock to FIND Bin Laden. And he did a lot of traveling and interviews with all kinds of people. But it just went nowhere. Did it reveal something about the Muslim world that wasn’t known? I don’t think so. And if it did, it was directed to a less educated audience. Though I think a less educated audience wouldn’t even watch this movie and thus would miss out on the lessons in it.

The movie was entertaining though. Not quite up to Super Size Me, but that’s a high bar.

Movie review: I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With

Posted by seoulfully on March 25th, 2009

[DVD]

The trailer made this seem like a cute little romantic comedy. With a few nice quips and zingers and whatnot. Umm, not really. Well it was supposed to be a romantic comedy, but it was boring. Any any clever lines were already shown in the trailer. This was written and directed by Jeff Garland. It shows a little promise on the writing front, but I just don’t know if Garland is feature material. He was believable in a sad sack, Paul Giamatti sort of way, but I was honestly just bored throughout this movie. Sarah Silverman played the same role she always plays. And nice to see Bonnie Hunt. But totally forgettable movie.

Movie review: Duplicity

Posted by seoulfully on March 24th, 2009

For some reason I don’t think the reunion of Clive Owen and Julia Roberts was as big a deal as when she got back with Richard Gere and Hector Elizondo in Runaway Bride [DVD]. Duplicity is a clever caper-romance movie. Though for an entertaining caper flick, it certainly moves at a leisurely pace. I’m not sure exactly what it was though. Perhaps the stylized split screen transitions? Or maybe the repetitive nature of the dialogue? Whatever the reason it felt every minute of it’s roughly 2 hour run time.

Julia Roberts seems to have a love/hate thing going for her. In these binary terms, I fall in the love camp. I think she’s not a great actress, nor is she drop dead gorgeous. But I think she’s just very winning. Very likable. While she plays one of the main characters, I don’t think the role is as juicy as Clive Owens’s character. He’s allowed to play a large range of emotions and manages to make them believable. Also, for what it’s worth, the man can wear a suit, and while I’m a fan of Daniel Craig’s Bond, I think Clive Owens would’ve been great in the role as had been rumored pre-Craig.

Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti are excellent as they usually are. Giamatti really bites into his role, chews a little scenery, but that’s okay. Wilkinson plays the kind of character his character in Michael Clayton [Blu-ray | DVD] died at the hands of. Wow, that was kind of a shitty sentence. And instead of fixing it, I’m just adding rambling commentary about the poor quality of my writing.

Anyways, kind of slow, but entertaining. Sort of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith [Blu-ray | DVD] meets the Ocean series [Blu-ray | DVD].

Movie review: The Ten

Posted by seoulfully on March 22nd, 2009

[DVD]

This isn’t a particularly good movie hop over to this web-site. Not even all that funny. A series of ten shorts stories based on the Ten Commandments. They are loosely tied together via overarching characters or plot lines. I think the funniest bit was the animated portion about the Lying Rhino and his amazing poop, or perhaps Winona Ryder and her puppet love. It was an all-star cast of great actors. And could’ve been good, but felt like a missed opportunity.