I’ve been watching a lot of television and movies over the past few weeks, mostly as a thought avoidance tactic. But no matter how hard I try there are always some signifying items that cross my view and threaten to expand into lifelong, or at least week-long, thought obsessions. Two recent movies illustrate this contrasting reaction.
The first is In the Loop, a biting satire of the politics that led to the Iraq war a scant ten years ago.
A class assignment in 503 asked for the top favorite books and movies. So it here it is for another audience. I notice that the movie list is a lot more variable than the book list. The book list is more stable than the movie list. I’ve seen so many movies it’s hard to remember the ones that really make an impression. It’s also a temperament thing. For books I often remember the place and time I was reading them, the connection is more emotional.
Things have been quiet here at EcEc for the last few days. Preparations for the upcoming semester are gearing up. Ragweed pollen is high, my eyes are itchy and swollen, and I haven’t been reading much online or elsewhere.
Instead I’ve been watching movies and television episodes on DVD. I watched Heat again because I was curious to see if it was as annoying as I remembered. I enjoyed Miami Vice when it came out earlier this summer, and liked Collateral on DVD.
Last weekend I was in need of some silly summer movie fun. Coincidentally, I was thinking about academia and the institutions of higher education. On a lark I went to see Accepted. I read the plot synopsis - rejected high school student creates his own ‘fake’ college to convince his parents that he is really going to amount to something - and thought it’d be a mild summer diversion. To my surprise it was a revolutionary reaction to current academia.
Tonight’s disquisition is a trip down memory lane, following connections as they come. I watched Sunshine State, a film by John Sayles on Friday night. I frequently forget to mention Sayles when someone asks me about my favorite movies or directors. His work is extremely good, but often understated. He almost always uses an ensemble of characters to create a portrait of a particular place at a particular time. Among his best are Matewan and City of Hope.
Even the movies I’ve been watching, not to mention the news I’ve been reading, have been about violence lately. This weekend it was two approaches to the same problem: the industry of killing.
First up was Lord of War, a recent Nicholas Cage flick about a young Ukrainian man who emigrates to the United States and becomes an arms dealer. What better way to make money, huh? America is, indeed, the land of opportunity.
I recently watched two documentaries, Hell House and Revolution OS, back-to-back and want to offer some insights I noticed about the different notions of choice and freedom that both of these films reveal.
Hell House is about a Halloween display put on by a church in Texas. The display is modeled on a haunted house, but instead of ghosts and goblins, the villain is sin. Of course, sin comes in a very conservative Christianist wrapper.
I saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest over the last weekend and I was disappointed. Three hours of setup for the sequel, with nice special effects along the way. Ultimately disappointing.
But seeing it reminded me of a problem that I’ve detected in at least two different artistic endeavors: movie making and genre writing. It’s the problem of trilogies or series that just can’t bear the weight of three parts.
The American Film Institute released another one of it’s top 100 lists a few weeks ago - 100 Cheers. It’s supposed to be the most inspiring 100 films of all time. I’ve recorded my progress on the list at Lists of Bests. 80 out of 100 movies seems pretty good to me.
The presence of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at number one makes me imagine an alternate world in which the copyright on the movie hadn’t expired during the 1980s and the movie hadn’t become the holiday movie staple that it became.