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April 26, 2004
Bend It Like Beckham
I saw Bend It Like Beckham
on video tonight. It's a good movie, even for people who don't like soccer -- or football, as this movie takes place in England. Parminder Nagra stars as Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra, an Indian teen who dreams of playing football like her idol, David Beckham. She gets recruited by Jules, played by Keira Knightley, to join her on an amateur women's team. Jess practices and wins in secret, however, because her parents don't approve. I like that Jess's parents aren't one-dimensional authoritarian figures: They're traditional but also loving. A funny parallel is that Jules's mother is also concerned about her daughter's involvement, worrying that she won't find a nice boyfriend or that she may be a lesbian. Until now I'd never seen such an compelling, humorous look at British Indian life; whether or not it's an accurate portrayal, this movie takes a fairly simple story and elevates it with characters anyone can relate to and a joyful message about achieving goals.
April 05, 2004
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
Today I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
. Jim Carrey plays Joel Barish, a man who discovers that his girlfriend Clementine (Kate Winslet) has had him removed from her memories. He decides to have his memories of her removed, but discovers that there are some memories worth keeping. The viewer gets inside Joel's mind, watching his relationship grow and wither as he runs from scene to scene with Clementine to keep her from disappearing. Despite the science fiction setup, the film seems to be set in the present -- the memory procedure is simply a way to see a relationship from a different perspective. Thankfully it's not being heavily marketed as a comedy, because it's more like a drama. However, the scenes with the staff of Lacuna
, the medical office that performs the erasure, are pretty funny (Kirsten Dunst gives a noteworthy performance as Mary, who gets stoned and dances in her underwear during the procedure, and who later discovers something about her own memory). Early on it takes some effort to figure out which scenes happened or didn't happen in which order, but perhaps that's the point. This is an enjoyable movie that tells us that sometimes the most ordinary moments are the most memorable.
April 03, 2004
I watched Simone
on DVD tonight. It features Al Pacino as Viktor Taransky, a producer who saves his movie and career by casting a virtual actress called Simone. Simone becomes a worldwide celebrity, and Taransky tries to keep up the illusion. The movie is fairly enjoyable; despite a baffling, unsatisfying ending that nearly undermines the whole affair, it presents some interesting ideas about celebrity worship and choosing delusion over reality.
March 20, 2004
I watched a 2-Disc Special Edition of Spider-Man
on DVD tonight. As a movie about the ramifications of gaining superpowers, it's pretty enjoyable. Spider-Man's nemesis Green Goblin, however, is too one-dimensional. Villains in superhero movies should have grand plans, but this one really doesn't -- he only serves to test Spider-Man. I was really impressed by J.K. Simmons in the role of newspaper editor J. Jonah Jameson; he is one of the best things about this movie. The DVDs hold an impressive amount of extras, including significant comic book backstory. However, the hotspots on the DVD menu buttons are maddeningly small -- do yourself a favor and use the arrow keys.
January 28, 2004
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
I saw The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
today. I enjoyed it, even though it's not my usual taste. Sweeping epic? Yes, and spectacular special effects. It's been almost a year to the day since I saw the previous one, but I understood most of what was going on. Keeping track of character names and places was challenging, and I thought the ending could have been clearer, but overall it's a great film.
December 30, 2003
One Hour Photo
I saw One Hour Photo
last night. It's a powerful, tragic movie about what can happen when reality ruins delusion. Robin Williams as Sy Parrish is both sympathetic and creepy; he presents an exacting, quiet restraint that most of his other roles lack. I enjoyed the way Sy develops major themes in the movie through talk of photography. For example, Sy's search for a connection to the world makes him more normal than not: Describing photos as little stands against time, he says, "If these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture." What's more human than the desire to matter? Sy also clarifies the film's focus on details: "Most people don't take snapshots of the little things. The used Band-Aid, the guy at the gas station, the wasp on the Jell-O. But these are the things that make up the true picture of our lives. People don't take pictures of these things." Thus, the truth of details often is forgotten behind the facade of happier, more extraordinary things. Above all, I think the movie is an indictment of society, where many are marginalized and ignored, where small talk serves to mask people's loneliness, making them think that surface relationships with people who are actually strangers count for something. Well, perhaps they do count, for some people more than others, because for some there is nothing else. The greater lesson presented, then, is that Sy is not a fantastic monster, but one of us; we all must be vigilant, we all must be mindful of each other, to fight the effects of a dehumanizing, two-faced society and a universe that doesn't seem to care.
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