Friday, February 01, 2008

Winter Movie Thoughts

It's definitely been winter up here. This time a week ago all our lovely snow had melted and the temperature was hovering, even at night, in the high forties to low fifties range. When I headed for work on Tuesday morning it was about fifty. When I headed home from LIFEgroup on Tuesday night the temp. was in single digits and headed for negative four. An exciting wild west wind was blowing snow all over the place and making my drive home (c. 15 miles) tense and interesting. By the time I got up we'd had three inches that had drifted into a ridge a foot deep in the driveway between my building and the one next door. On Thursday our predicted snow showers turned into a nine inch deluge. At some point during the super bowl somebody looked outside and noticed that it was snowing and we picked up another 5 inches or so. With temps in the forties and rain today and tomorrow it might all be gone by the time I leave work and by the time I leave LIFEgroup again, the same night it'll be cold and snowing. It's been a fun winter. Some folks are ready for it to go but I'm having too much fun. Thus for the winter part of the title.

Now for the movie part. I saw a couple of things I wanted to comment on. Also we're doing a movie display at work to coincide with Oscar season (whatever happens to the show itself) at work and Matt asked me to write up reflections about some of the movies on our display that students might not have seen so here're thoughts on two I saw over the weekend and the three displayed.
1. U2 Concert in 3-D: I saw this on the Imax in Lincolnshire with my friend Dianne on Saturday. I'm impressed with the 3-D technique. It's way beyond what I remember from watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon on t.v. with the cardboard red and blue glasses back in the 80's. Bono and lads as well as the audience really were jumping out of the screen at me. There were a few times when I thought the kids in the seats in front of me were waving their hands in the air but no, it was the Argentine crowd on the screen. Also U2 rocks. There was something about listening to this huge crowd of teens and 20somethings singing along to New Year's Day and Sunday, Bloody Sunday. There's a lot of stuff said about 80's music, but the decade wasn't all bad. Their new stuff's good too, and so is the stuff in between. It was an impressive spectacle.
2. The Rhinoceros: This is an adaptation of the Ionesco play starring Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder that came out around 1973. Mostel is truly amazing as Wilder's pretentious neighbour who turns into a rhinoceros. Wilder's is the lead role but it's Mostel's performance that is gripping. I didn't care for their pairing in The Producers, though I might if I gave it another chance, but they work very well together here. Wilder is also very good as the alcoholic accountant who struggles to resist as everyone around him becomes a rhino. Wilder is especially gripping toward the end when he comes to terms with the fact that he's the last human. How, now, does he know he is human? How does he know he is right and all others are wrong? How does he know he speaks while they only bellow and snort? It doesn't matter, he will fight for his humanity. It's a very interesting movie.
3. It Happened One Night: This 1934 picture won Oscars for best adapted screenplay, best actor (Clark Gable), best actress (Claudette Colbert), best director (Frank Capra), and best picture. Colbert plays as young socialite who's just gotten impulsively married. Her family blocks the marriage and to escape their opposition she jumps off the family yacht in Miami and tries to get back to her husband in New York. Gable plays a down-and-out reporter who blackmails her into letting him travel with her in hopes of a big scoop. As they progress through difficulties up the coast they steadily fall in love before having to deal with her father and ersatz husband. Aside from being a fun story the movie is very interesting for the social attitudes it portrays. Gable's drunkenness and his assertion that Colbert's character "needs is a guy that'd take a sock at her once a day, whether it's coming to her or not." pass completely without critique in a way that would be impossible today. Legal scholar Mary Ann Glendon has used the movie on occasion as an example of the way societal attitudes towards what is permissible can change seemingly overnight.
4. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: This 1948 film won Oscars for best supporting actor (Walter Huston), best director (John Huston), and best adapted screenplay. It stars Humphrey Bogart and Tim Holt as Americans down on their luck in Mexico who hook up with Huston's old prospector to look for gold in the mountains. They have to contend with the elements, an interloper, bandits and their own greed. Bogart's Fred C. Dobbs scoffs at the old man's warnings about gold fever even as he descends into his own madness. It's a great study of camaraderie and what good fortune can do to men. It's also the source of the famous line, "Badges? We ain't got no badges. We don't need no badges. I don't have to show you any stinking badges."
5. On the Waterfront: This one came out in 1954 and won Oscars for Best Actor (Marlon Brando), best supporting actress (Eva Marie Saint), best director (Elia Kazan), best original screenplay, and best picture. Brando is Terry Malloy, a former boxer who "coulda been a contender," but who now works in the shipyards and for the mob. Eva Marie Saint is his neighbor and Karl Malden is a priest, together they challenge Terry to speak up to the police to help fight the corruption on the docks and take down Lee J. Cobb's crime lord. You could watch the movie just to see Saint's face or to hear Malden's sermon urging the workers to take action on their own behalf against the mob and so prevent new crucifixions, or to see Malloy, beaten by the boss's goons struggling to work in the face of the ostracism of his peers. It's been argued that movie is Kazan's defense for having named names in the McCarthy hearings, whether that's true or not, it's a powerful story of man's struggle to fight against his past and do what he thinks is right.

So there you go, winter and movies. Also how about those Giants.

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