Friday, February 20, 2009

The 156 Project

I thought this would be a good idea: to post my thoughts about the movies I see during my journey through 156 movies. I've started calling it (at least in my head) "The 156 Project". This week I've watched 3 movies... honestly, I'm a little behind because of a few reasons: 1. being busy after work and not having time to sit down for 2 hours, and 2. whenever I do sit down, I can't seem to stay awake. But I did manage to get through these 3 movies (listed below). The number beside the movie is where they happen in chronological order in my viewing. In January of next year I will compile my list in order of my least favorite, #156, up to my favorite movie of the year, #1. Enough! Check out the movies I saw in the past 7 or so days....

18. He's Just Not That Into You (theater) PG-13
I really liked this movie. The two thoughts I came away with are the repeated messages from one of the characters: if a guy wants to be with you, he will make it happen. That is so true and something I am learning as a grown man. The second thing I will remember is something that didnt really start to bother me till days after I watched the movie: I hate marital unfaithfulness. I understand how easy it can happen, and the movie showed that, but the failed relationship in this movie frustrates me, and it's because of the character named Ben, who cheated on his wife repeatedly. The act of cheating is terrible and destructive. And this movie showed that pretty well, the emotion of the cheated-on wife, the lack of emotion of the husband towards his wife, and the evil seductive behavior of "the other woman". I was very excited to see how Ben Affleck's character came around at the end and became a real man. He manned up. Just goes to show that guys named Ben? can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Also, this was an ensemble cast, so it was hard to focus on one character's plight. Did I mention that Kris Kristofferson was in this movie playing a very likeable character. Kudos to Mr. Kristofferson!

19. August Rush (DVD) PG
Why Robin Williams? For a character that is serious, why Robin Williams? A pretty corny predictable movie. There were a few songs that I liked throughout the movie, but not enough to watch it again when I could be sleeping. And unless the young kid had 3 hands, there's no way he could play the music he was playing. Either that was bad editing, or they wanted us to think he was a mutant.

20. The Butterfly Effect (DVD) R
Wow. Wow. I thought this movie was very good. I went into it not expecting much, and also with little desire to watch Ashton Kutcher. To my surprise, I thought he did a good job. I rarely thought to myself, "There's Ashton pretending to be this other character," the way I think of Tom Cruise... "oh, there's Tom Cruise acting like a professional football player's agent," or "wow, this movie about the military starring Tom Cruise reminds me of Tom Cruise... except now he's dressed like he's in the military," or "What? Tom Cruise is in this movie? Which part is he going to look like Tom Cruise dressed like another character in?"

Anyway, back to The Butterfly Effect. It was very much like the "choose your own adventure" books I remember from growing up. And anyone who wanted to pretend to have control over the story loved these books. That's mostly why I liked this movie. It played out different scenarios, each having its own consequences based on what Ashton's character chose to do in a given situation. Each decision he made solved one problem but then caused another problem. So he would zap back to before said decision was made and by choosing a different course, he avoided the problem. After a series of undesirable outcomes were fixed and fixed again, he eventually found the ultimate solution. As a viewer, I definitely felt connected to the story, and sat on the edge of my seat trying to find out what he would do next, and if what he did would solve the problem without causing more problems. Very very interesting movie, with humor, drama, suspense, and thought provoking scenes. Was there a message hidden somewhere in this movie? I suppose the message is that no matter how small or large a decision seems to be, it can have huge consequences. Another message may be that your decisions affect everyone around you, and it may be hard to see, but years down the road you will see that the course of lives were dramatically affected by what you decided in a given moment.

I recommend this movie, but beware there are some scenes that may be disturbing, it is rated R after all.

21. Eagle Eye (DVD) PG-13
Lots of action in this movie. If you like sitting on the edge of your seat, this film is a good one to watch! Overall, I kept being reminded of iRobot (the film with Will Smith) so that kind of took a little of the awe away from the plot on this one. I felt like it had sort of been done before. And thinking back, I'm not so sure the plot was well extablished. I mean, things happen and it keeps you interested in what's going on with a couple of the characters, but there is no, "bam! here's the plot, come along and take this action packed thrill ride and find out how it gets resolved!" It's more like, "watch these various events happen. See our main character try to find out more about his brother. Oh, and we sort of have a resolution to these problems at the end of the movie". So overall, I do think the movie was entertaining, with a satisfying ending, but it has been done before and there is a bit too much cursing than there needed to be.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Life Is Rated R

In my quest to see 156 movies this year, I've come up with a theory. As theories go, I think it's a pretty good one, although not very scientific. But it "arrived through speculation or conjecture," so it fits the dictionary definition of theory, and here it is: life is rated R. It begins with a G rating, although if you really want to go back to the very beginning, one could argue that it begins with an X rating, but we'll say G, starting from birth. As a baby grows and journies through life, the force and influence of the rated R future slowly presses in. Molding this young G-rated life into a PG-13 life. As I think about how and why this happens, I am saddened. In a perfect world, there would be no R-rated life, our existence would be how it was originally designed to be: no harsh language, no violence, no drug abuse, which are all evidence and symptoms of the real problems... greed, lust, and selfishness. But as it is now, we do not grow into the rated R life, the rated R life grows into us. And that is sad. Think back to when you were 9 or 10... most of what you learn is from adults, right? Yes, you learn from your peers quite a bit when you are young, but even your peers have learned it from somewhere else. Adults. With the rated R life. I'm not saying every adult is at fault for innocent lives being corrupted, but surely every adult is responsible for the growth and/or starvation of the R-rated lifestyle. Concerning the generations coming up behind us, I suppose, as adults, we are either flaming the fire or shielding them from it. As an uncle of 6, I've been able to watch babies turn into young children. And I am feeling this strong urge to shield them, to protect them, to make it my responsibility (at least when I am with them) to guard their innocence, to keep their lives G-rated as long as possible. Why would I want anything else for them? Think about it, movies that are rated R have nudity, violence, danger, hard language, drug abuse and more. Which movie have you seen that's rated R because the characters were involved in excessive giving? Or being too selfless? Or for lengthy non-violent scenes? Or for consistent use of kind language? None! Here's what I'm getting at: the elements that make a movie rated R are not and cannot be positive. So why would anyone subject, or even help, the next generation experience this? But this is not about the movie rating system. It's about real life.

Like my title says, life is rated R... for me, and I bet for you, too. We should not try to hide from reality, because reality is simply that life is rated R. And there are some really great movies out there that have captured the challenge that life is... and sometimes it is violent, sometimes it does have adult material, sometimes it has colorful language because we are all human, and we are all trying to make sense of the world and the life we live. And when it get's tough, you know what? That's life, and life... is rated R. The good news, though, like every great movie, is that there is hope... and it is this: to find the one who can be your guardian through the R-rated moments of life. Then, and only then, will the life you lead have the happiest of endings.