Friday, January 04, 2008

Movies Watched in 2007--Part One

I've debated about whether to post this list. I started it alongside my list of books read, but it's interesting how different it is to review or recommend movies, partly because there are so few movies without any potentially objectionable elements. In books, you don't have to worry about non-verbals like how the characters are dressed or what kind of music they are dancing to--but one adult I know disapproved of exactly those elements in a movie I really enjoyed (Step Up).

People have very different standards for movies, and especially different positions on what they'll let their kids watch, and at what age--and whether it's your firstborn or the baby of the family makes a big difference as well! Some adults won't watch anything they couldn't watch with their kids, and of course, some will let their kids watch anything, and I don't know where my readers fall on the spectrum.

So this is just a record of most of the movies I saw last year (I forgot to write some down). They weren't all great, and the ones that I really liked, I wouldn't necessarily recommend to everyone. I have tried to note how tame or objectionable these films were, but please do your own previewing and online research since my memory may be faulty. (You know there are websites that tell you everything from the plot of the movie to how many times they use the "d" word; just google on "Christian movie review of...[name of movie]").

Readers may assume that because Papa Rooster is a priest and because we homeschool, we are very conservative about our movie choices. But I'm not sure we are, compared to many other homeschoolers, or compared to families with younger kids. More and more, our choices are driven by our teens, their interests and their friends--for better or worse! And while we're careful, we're not hyper-vigilant that they never see or hear anything inappropriate, especially at home, with us, on a small screen, with the fast-forward button at the ready. It's all fodder for discussion.

So when I say "our kids thought ...," I usually mean our three oldest kids, who were 16, 14 and 12 last year--and often our very mature 8-year-old joined us as well. (If it's not a "family movie," we put on a different movie for our younger kids, or put them to bed.) And if you don't like musicals, I apologize in advance.

So here's the list, in the order I/we saw them in:

Step Up
We really enjoyed this dance movie about a classically trained female modern dancer and a hip-hop male dancer from the streets. The love story is clean, the music grooves and and the dancing rocks!

High School Musical
A squeaky clean Disney offering with high-energy dance numbers and a feel-good message. Fun.

At A Hen's Pace review here. A great boy movie.

The Storyteller
These episodes by Jim Henson (of Muppets fame) are beautifully-crafted and riveting. Some are familiar Greek myths, some are lesser-known stories, some are twists on old tales. All have an aura of grim legend and mystery, often with a redemptive twist, told in a mesmerizing voice by "the storyteller." For more flavor and high recommendations, read the reviews here.
Enjoyed by all ages in our family, though they could be a little spooky for the very youngest. Start with the non-Greek myths.

Jesus Christ Superstar
I had a Christian high school teacher who passed out the lyrics and played songs from this musical every day of Holy Week, called it history and got away with it. Since then I've always had a soft spot in my heart for it, as I do for all Andrew Lloyd Weber's musicals, I admit.
Since my kids are into musical theater and since the 70's are "back," I figured my kids would enjoy this. Filmed on location in Israel, it is filled with intentional anachronisms--the disciples wear polyester leisure suits and sport afros, the Roman soldiers carry Uzzis and wear hard hats--and everybody sings with great intensity. The kids loved it.

The boys loved this based-on-a-true-story about World War 1 combat pilots. It's not my favorite genre, but it was enjoyable for what it was. Not quite squeaky clean.

The Illusionist
I LOVED this movie. It's a puzzle, a dramatic illusion. Don't miss it.

Seussical the Musical
Our library managed to obtain a community theater production's performance on video so we could view it before our kids auditioned for this wonderful musical, which you should enjoy live if at all possible.

Gone With the Wind
Our study of American history would not have been complete without this screen classic. The kids were riveted.

Eh--not so riveting, they said. And then the hero dies at the end? Why did you make us watch that, Mom?
(I didn't preview this Civil War movie.)

This Tim Allen comedy about space school was really stupid, I thought. Sky High (last year's review here) was muuuuch better.

A military movie my oldest son brought home from the library. Too much language and violence (boxing and boot camp intensity) for me to recommend it.

The Pursuit of Happyness
Ah--but I can recommend this excellent, based-on-a-true story, inspirational drama. Will Smith is just great and so is his son. We all loved it.

Charlotte's Web
Although this fresh retelling of the children's classic was delightful, Papa Rooster and I really missed the musical dimension of the old animated musical by the same title, which we also watched as preparation for auditions. The younger set loved them both.

Papa Rooster, Blondechick 15, Bantam12 and I loved the incredible singing in this musical loosely based on the story of Diana Ross and the Supremes. Not squeaky clean but still recommendable.

Deja Vu
An action/adventure movie with Denzel Washington. Kind of intriguing but kind of boring at points, I thought.

Rear Window
It was time to introduce our kids to Alfred Hitchcock. They loved this.

Marie Antoinette
Blondechick15 and I watched this one alone together as a follow-up to a research paper she wrote on this historical figure. I feared a heavy period movie filled with gratuitous ravishing of females, but this was a light and fresh approach with little objectionable content. It sympathetically portrayed Marie as a young adult surrounded by other clueless young adults, trying to escape the pressures of court life, her foreigner status, and her fishbowl marriage. Highlighting the timeless and universal quality to their youth was an intriguing approach. Kirsten Dunst was perfect in the title role, and the costuming and cinematography were impressive. (Very brief female nudity.)

Come back tomorrow for Part Two!


Kerry said...

Loved your movie selections - gave me some ideas for rentals.

I just have to highly second "Fearless". What a great movie. Wow. We let our boys watch *parts* of it with us. They are 11 and 8. Some of the fight scenes might be upsetting to some kids, but the martial artistry is fantastic (even with the typical martial arts movie "enhancements")! And the story's moral is profound.

Also, we loved "Pursuit of Happyness". What a dear movie!

Looking forward to part 2!

martha said...

Why certainly yes from me! martha

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Loved this--and part two.

I can recommend August Rush to you--and the kiddos (at least the 2 oldest and probably 3). I saw it in the theater, but it should be on DVD in the next few months.

I am compelled by your Sweeney Todd review. Violence doesn't bother me (by that I mean stick with me and mess with my head) as much as some other gratuitous stuff, but I'll have to think about it.