Saturday, January 05, 2008

Movies Watched in 2007--Part Two

(Here's Part One, with necessary caveats and qualifications!)

The Fantastics
We loved this film version of the long-running musical, though I guess devotees did not. Bantam8 really, really wanted to do the song "Abductions, abductions, theatrical abductions..." for an audition, but for an 8-year-old, we thought it not quite appropriate. (Try to imagine him, though, those of you who know him, if you watch it!)

High School Musical 2
See High School Musical.

Facing the Giants
For a low-budget Christian movie with non-professional actors, this was great. Our boys especially loved this football story.

The Bourne Ultimatum
What I expected--a great action/adventure movie like the other Bourne movies. No love interest in this one, though, to keep me caring.

Hairspray
We like musicals. (Have you noticed?) This one was fun.

Hot Fuzz
An off-beat British comedy with some hilarious moments.

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
"Anyone, anyone..." remember this movie? Papa R and I say that to each other so often, we thought we should let the older kids in on the joke.

Waiting for Guffman
A "mockumentary" (by the producers of Spinal Tap, Best of Show, and A Mighty Wind) about community theater--musical, of course. Christopher Guest is hilarious as the self-important gay director.

The Ultimate Gift
This is a high-quality Christian movie with a great message. The concept struck me as a little gimmicky to begin with, but I was won over by a good story, and that heartbreakingly adorable little girl. Christians get a lot of pressure to support this or that "Christian" film, but you'll feel great about this one.

The Last Sin-Eater
Another high-quality Christian film (directed by Michael Landon, Jr.), about a Welsh community in the Appalachians with dark secrets. Worth watching for the excellent performance by the young girl who stars, but also for a Christian story line that is truly compelling, not preachy.

Next
An action/adventure flick starring Nicholas Cage. He can see two minutes into the future, and the FBI wants him to help prevent a nuclear attack.
Yawn. (Can you tell this isn't my favorite genre? They're all alike.) Not squeaky clean, either.

Arsenic and Old Lace
Now this was more my style! It was easy to see why this film is a classic. My kids groaned when they first saw black and white, but they were hooked after the first five minutes. It's ghoulishly hilarious, with dead bodies popping up here and there and Cary Grant looking pleadingly into the camera for help in dealing with his batty old aunts. I enjoyed this play on the stage, but the movie was even better. I'm eager to see it again!

Vertigo
Another Alfred Hitchcock suspense classic that our kids loved.

Glory Road
In a long tradition of inspiring basketball stories, this is one of the best. It's a true story about a coach from a little-known school in the South who builds a championship basketball team by recruiting black players in an era of prejudice. Our kids were shocked, educated and inspired by this film.

Sweet Land
A slow, sweet romantic "art film" about a mail-order bride in 1920's Minnesota. She and her fiance end up in an ethical dilemma when they fall in love, but the local authorities won't grant them a wedding license because she's German. (There's an excellent plot synopsis here.) It's a visually beautiful film, and the dialogue is minimal and poetic, especially since neither of the lovers speak English as a first language (he's Norwegian). There is no easy answer to their dilemma, which ends in common-law marriage. A good discussion movie with teens.

Beowulf
Ugh. I let Papa Rooster talk me into seeing this one at an IMAX theater, in 3-D, because from the previews, I had hopes that this film would be a good introduction to the literary classic (and besides, I had twisted his arm to see Hairspray on his birthday, so I owed him). But unfortunately--because it was good in many ways--it was way, way too violent. It was a great morality tale of how lust corrupts whole families, and surprisingly, the Angelina Jolie monster was very well done--enticing yet revolting at the same time, just like lust.

Amazing Grace
I love the actor who plays William Wilberforce in this powerful movie about the struggle to abolish slavery in England. (He was also Horatio Hornblower.) It didn't entirely hold our kids' interest, though.

Enchanted
You know we loved this one.
Here's Frederica Mathewes-Green's review if you want excellent commentary.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Our oldest son brought this one home from the library, and everyone enjoyed this gentle sci-fi movie, which I missed back in my high school days. We couldn't get over how ADORABLE the 3-year-old boy was--and how much he looked like Bantam2! (Here's a link to his picture.)

Stranger Than Fiction
This is a unique film about an IRS agent with a monotonous life who suddenly starts to hear an author's voice in his head, narrating his life as he lives it. In the book he's in, he's the main character who will die in the end, and he must search out the author to convince her to change the ending. (I told you it was unique.)
Emma Thompson plays an uncharacteristic role as the chain-smoking, tormented authoress and Will Farrell is amazingly funny as the straight man/IRS agent. What I most enjoyed about this movie, though, was the young pastry chef he audits and falls in love with; I think this fresh-faced gal is my new favorite actress. Her sparkling blue eyes make me happy. And those dimples just...speak to me. (They say: Smile, darlin', smile.)

Ratatouille
Ah, you know we loved this one too.
If you don't have kids, this is another wonderful Pixar film; this one's about a rat with the nose and instincts of a great chef.

Once
We (and I mean the older kids too) loved this off-beat, low-budget, bare-scripted story in which real-life singer/musician non-actors play the lead roles of an Irish singer/guitarist and a Czech pianist who team up for a weekend recording session. Slow-moving but engaging in an artsy way. Full of music. Some language, of the Irish idiom.

Stardust
Sort of a Princess Bride wanna-be but without quite the genius. Too violent for younger kids; still, worth an adult rental for Michelle Pfeiffer’s most excellent icky witch portrayal and Robert Duvall’s winning Captain Shakespeare. The two lesser-known leads are charming, and once I got over my horror at the family tradition of fraticide, I even enjoyed the comic relief of the dead brothers’ ghosts. Not for everyone, but a fresh fairy tale for some.

Sweeney Todd
We loved this, but were so disappointed--we can't recommend it because it is just too disturbing and bloody.

But oh, the music is beautiful and brilliant. Yes, it's a musical, this story of a mad, vengeful barber who slits mens' throats and then shoots their bodies off to the kitchen to be made into meat pies by his shopkeeper accomplice. It's a very dark morality tale of how revenge eats away at the soul, causing men even to destroy even those they love. It's a picture of man eating man--literally.

Although we generally don't miss musicals, we might have drawn the line at this one...except that my husband has loved the music from this show ever since he saw the original Broadway production when he was a young boy. He got to go backstage and meet Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury, because his parents, former Broadway performers themselves, had connections. Ever since I've known him, Stephen Sondheim's glorious melodies from this show have been some of his favorites to listen to and to sing.

So we had been anticipating it for months--and if one knows what one is getting into and can overlook the blood, it's a brilliant adaptation for the screen. The acting is superb; the singing is consistently good (though not great), and the cinematographic vision of the film is...something to see. There is one little boy in it who sings like a choir boy angel--heartbreaking!

I just kept thinking what a tragedy it is--the story, and also that you have to view such disturbing images to enjoy the musical genius of this show.

And other than listening to It's a Wonderful Life while I prepared food for Christmas Day, that was the last movie of 2007.

Here's to more good films in 2008!

5 comments:

Amy said...

Adam likes Sweeny Todd, too, though he hasn't seen the new film yet. I was forced to watch it in Junior High as part of some music or drama class. I've been icked out by it ever since.

I also recommend Ratatouille. As someone with a background in professional cooking, Adam said the kitchen scenes were pretty accurate.

I'm glad to hear good things about Facing the Giants. I've been vacillating on that one for quite a while now, wondering if it would really be as good as the hype.

Erin said...

I will check out some of your recommendations. :)

I am an expert at averting my eyes during bloody scenes, so I LOVED Sweeney Todd! It was soooo amazing.

Jennifer said...

What a fun list to read through!

If you liked "Stranger Than Fiction", you might like a movie that came out in November "Lars and the Real Girl" It's quirky in the same kind of delightful way. And, its a great analogy for how someome's life can be changed when they learn to attach in a healthy way.

Jen in Seattle

Islandsparrow said...

I just watched Stardust and got a huge kick out of the dead brothers’ ghosts -hilarious!

My daughter just got the part of Sharpay in High School Musical - her high school is putting it on this spring. I haven't seen the movie and I don't think I will until after they perform. She's pretty excited!

At A Hen's Pace said...

Amy--

You'll like Facing the Giants if your expectations aren't too high...

Erin--

I'm so glad to hear from someone else who saw and liked Sweeney Todd!

Jen--

Thanks for the recommendation! We'll check it out.

Kathie--

WOW! Sharpay is a GREAT part. What fun!!!

(Bantam8 is Sharpay's brother Ryan in the one scene his Beginning Musical Theater class is putting on for their Showcase number on the last day of class!)

Jeanne