Summer is here. OK, maybe not officially, but the temperature is rising and my boys will be out of school in a week. Summer means a lot of things; running through the sprinkler, riding the bike, tubing on the lake, and Netflix. That’s right, the online movie rental pioneer Netflix. Nothing says summer like bright red pre postage paid dvds in my mailbox. Once television’s spring sweeps finish up we reactivate our Netflix account and spend the next 4 months catching up on all the movies we missed while we were watching Jack Shepherd pull a reverse Jack Bauer. The point is, the next few months will see a deluge of DVD reviews showing up here at Rollin’, so you best be ready. I won’t bother reviewing them all (you can catch the full list at my listology.com home) but I will try to hit the ones that might be worth your time, or that I found interesting. It’s also important to note that these reviews will be condensed. Last summer I watched over a hundred DVDs (don’t judge me, I could stop anytime I want) and I don’t want them to dominate the blog. So maybe, every Wednesday (now that Idol is through) I’ll post some DVD thoughts in a brief rundown.
Last King of Scotland
R, 2006, 82%
General Thoughts: A powerful film with an astonishing performance by Forest Whitaker as Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda. The movie does an amazing job of painting the picture of a brutal man with an engaging magnetic personality, through the eyes of a fictional personal physician. There is enough rough content in this movie to make it difficult to recommend but it was great insight into being careful about who we connect ourselves with and the power of sin to take you further than you ever thought you would go.
Overall Grade: B- (82%)
R, 2006, 74%
General Thoughts: Based around the assassination of Robert Kennedy, the story follows several fictional characters as the deal with racism, adultery, growing old, addiction, war, and life in general. Even with all these topical conversations the only thing I found interesting about this movie was the historical aspect of the assassination, and since the characters (excepting the hispanic kitchen worker who held Kennedy as he lay dying) were all fictional it made for a very frustrating experience. I wasn’t quite sure what the movie was trying to say, except for possiblly some blatant Kennedy worship. The performances were adequate, but noone really had enough screen time to develop beyond what was on the page. Overall a very dissapointing film, especially considering the pedigree of the cast.
Interesting side note: How is it that I never knew that 24’s first season was a blatant allusion to the Robert Kennedy assassination? A socially active president has an attempt on his life on the day of the California presidential primary, and I never put the pieces together? Was the first season plot an attempt to see if one man could have stopped the assassination of “Bobby”? It’s funny to think that a show that is now known for being as over the top and unrealistic as possible got it’s start with a storyline that was firmly planted in historical legitimacy. Hmmm.
Overall Grade: C (74%)
Stranger than Fiction
PG-13, 2006, 92%
General Thoughts: This is one I really wish I had time to do a full review on. It’s hard to encapsulate a movie with this much depth, symbolism, and beauty because there is so much going on. Stranger Than Fiction follows Harold Crick (played wonderfully and subtlely, if you can believe it, by Will Ferrell) as he deals with the sudden voice of a narrator informing him of his immenent death. The voice belongs to an author who is writing him as a character in her new novel. The plot is beautifully laid out under this conceit and succeeds with both humor and grace. The symbolism takes the message about structure and freedom to a whole new level (pay special attention anytime you see a circle) and Maggie Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, and Emma Thompson all give stellar performances as well. Most notably to me, however, is the last message that the movie throws our way (stop reading if you don’t want to know the ending). The author of the story says this about her main character, “Because it’s a book about a man who doesn’t know he’s about to die, and then dies. But if a man does know he’s about to die and dies anyway, dies willingly, knowing that he could stop it, then, I mean, isn’t that the type of man who you want to keep alive?” The power of a Christ’s willing sacrifice and even resurrection portrayed beautifully by the same guy who brought us Ron Burgundy and Ricky Bobby… nice.
Overall Grade: A- (92%)