A Good Yarn

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Movie Weekend

This is a super busy weekend, so I'm not going to get much knitting done, but I did manage to sew another mitered square together on Friday night:

I do not know why the picture is darker at the top. Anyway, earlier in the evening, I saw this film:

I liked it but I did not love it. As you probably know, it's about the men who raised the flag captured in that famous photo pictured above on Iwo Jima during WWII. The movie sets up the characters by showing them in training together, showing that they're just regular young guys, having fun together, being goofy. Then they go to Iwo to take the island so that US forces can proceed on to Japan. The film than cuts back and forth between the battle on Iwo and the surviving men from the photo being paraded around the States as war heroes, to raise money to continue the fighting. The Iwo scenes are then shown as flashbacks in the minds of these men as they struggle with their survivors' guilt and just to deal with the horrific things they saw and had to do in battle.

I am a huge Clint Eastwood fan, but this one was a little disappointing for me. There was something about it that was a bit removed, distant. There are powerful scenes and the actors all do a marvelous job, especially Adam Beach as a Native American marine who has to deal with not only the horrors of war and feeling like a fraud, but also the weight of racism. But somehow those powerful moments didn't all fit together into a powerful movie for me. Maybe it was cutting back and forth between the war scenes and the U.S. scenes, sort of not cutting the drama of each one as it was building.

However, the film is as always for Eastwood really beautiful, with haunting music. The themes also resonate - the "manufactured" heroism to bolster the war, the effects of fighting on ordinary young men who then have to try to return to their lives, how society turns their back on these heroes after their usefulness is done. All of these ring true to our current war. I also have to warn you that it's pretty bloody and gruesome in the fight scenes, so if you're particularly sensitive to that, you may want to take a pass on this one. I was so very very happy that he didn't show one image, which I don't want to spoil here, but rather let us just see the reaction of a soldier seeing it for us.

Saturday, I saw another film - the first in the fall Talk Cinema series:

This is the most talked about movie on the web right now, but for those of you who aren't that into films, Borat is a semi-documentary starring Sacha Baron Cohen as Borat. Mr. Cohen had an HBO show called "Da Ali G Show" where he played a few different characters who interview and interact with regular people, who aren't in on the joke that this is an actor portraying a character. One of those characters was Borat, a television news anchor in Kazakhstan. Mr. Cohen has turned this bit into a movie, wherein Borat comes to America to make a documentary to help his people understand and emulate the American way of life. Even if you haven't heard of this movie yet, you soon will because I am sure it's going to be one of the biggest movies of the year.

I was not a fan of "Da Ali G Show" and for the same reasons, I am not really a fan of this movie. There are parts that are hilariously funny. But, it's incredibly over the top, pushing the envelope humor and there are just some things that I don't find funny - like incest and rape. There's a ton of really anti-Semitic humor and I know Mr. Cohen is Jewish, but it still made me feel too uncomfortable to laugh - he retakes some of the horrible images used by the Nazis and uses them as humor, which intellectually I understand, but at a gut level, "The Running of the Jews" just isn't funny to me. There's also lots of potty humor, which I rarely find funny either. The biggest laugh is a nude wrestling scene between Borat and his producer, a man who is probably at least 350 pounds. It goes on and on and on and on. I admire Cohen's willingness to go to any extreme for a laugh and there's a couple of parts of the wrestling match that I did laugh pretty hard (I don't want to ruin it, though, so no details), but in general I didn't find it as funny as most of the people I saw it with did.

It's been shown as part of the Talk Cinema series in many cities and we were told that generally 70% of people love it and 30% of people hate it. I guess I'm in the small minority who sort of like it, but definitely don't love it. One of the film reviewers for the Star Tribune, Colin Colvert, ran our discussion of the film afterwards and he said it was the funniest movie he's ever seen - so expect to see a great review from him once it is officially released.

The parts that I thought were the most funny were when Borat was interacting with regular Americans - on a NY subway, interviewing a humor coach or a couple of politicians, in an antique store, at a rodeo, hanging out with a bunch of frat boys, at a dinner party in Atlanta or at a Pentecostal church just to name some of them. It's unclear how many of the people he interacts with knew who he was and are just playing along with the bit, but at least some of them clearly think he really is a foreigner making a documentary about the U.S. These parts are really funny for the most part, and sometimes frightening because some of our fellow Americans are really frightening.

After the film, I got together with a couple of girlfriends for a little beading time. I made a couple of beaded rings:

I made them from a kit from Bead Monkey - you may remember I made some in green back during Project Spectrum. Saturday night I spent some time with Red. We carved a jack o lantern, which I think looks marvelously scary:

I'm not sure why Red has that look on his face - I'm thinking he just didn't really want me to take his picture! Here's jack in all his dark, scary glory:

After we carved jack, we went to see this:

When I originally saw "Nightmare", I took Jessica and she was about Red's age - oh, how time flies! I already knew I liked the movie, but I really liked the 3D effect, too. This Disney Digital technology is pretty amazing. It really brought a richness and depth to the animation. I think the type of animation used in this movie is perfectly suited for this type of digital 3-D effect, too.