Film Fest Friday: The Fox & The Child

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Yes, it’s a kids’ movie. But it is one of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time — almost like a nature documentary with a wonderful story. I don’t often see movies that make me wonder, “How did they film that?” This one did. Plus, I’m a sucker for movies about animals that are done well. (Duma is another good one.)

This is a French film made by the same director as March of the Penguins. But do not fear the subtitles — it’s narrated by Kate Winslet in English, and what little dialogue it contains is imperceptibly dubbed. Wherever this was filmed in France, Italy, and Romania — I want to go there. I felt like I was in a fantasy land for a couple of hours, traipsing through the forest and making animal friends. The pace is slow, but with good reason. March of the Penguins actually put me to sleep, but this one was lovely.

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Film Fest Friday: Revolutionary Road & Across the Universe

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I wish I had never seen a preview for this movie. There was really no need to watch it to know the story. Maybe the book was better? Superb acting by Kate & Leo. No real surprises. No real depth. It’s kind of interesting to me that people seem to think American society has changed so much in terms of the pressure to conform and live a life that has “acceptable” characteristics.

It has not.

It’s still about maintaining appearances and settling for what someone-something-somewhere has determined to be right. Especially in the social rung occupied by the characters in this film. Maybe that was why I was so depressed afterwards.

I think it would have been pretty interesting if the story had been paralleled with a present-day couple (or person) with similar issues. I wonder how many people watched this movie and thought, “Wow, we’re so lucky to have progressed so much that these types of things are not something we have to deal with! We can do anything we want as long as we have the money!” Because, you know, everything worth wanting has a price tag. Right? Right? 😉

Unfortunately, when it comes to “whatever we want” the collective imagination is lacking a bit of creativity these days. I heard a bit on the radio yesterday about how today’s teenagers don’t relate to Holden Caulfield anymore. That a free spirit desperately in search of freedom (release!) from a phony society is just not something that means much to them. Maybe because so many of them already have “whatever they want,” or at least what they are programmed to want. Which is really nothing of much real value. Does anyone today even really understand what word “revolution” means?

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As a follow-up, immediately upon the end credits of Revolutionary Road, you should pop Across the Universe into the DVD player to take the bitter taste out of your mouth.

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I avoided it for a while because I was afraid it would be cheesy and generalized. It was, kinda. But it also manages to be lighthearted and humanizing while examining some really serious topics surrounding the current events, emerging musical and artistic genres, political turmoil, and exploding youth movements — dare I say revolutions? — of the 1960’s. Oh, and did I mention that it’s also a musical? And all the songs are Beatles songs? Yeah. I actually loved it. What a complicated time. I totally cried my eyes out at a musical. Whereas Revolutionary Road just made me angry. Interesting.

Friday Film Fest: The Reader

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I have loved Kate Winslet ever since the moment her perfectly pale face appeared from underneath that ginormous hat in Titanic. She is so very underappreciated as an actor. Along the same lines as Rachel Weisz. Love her. And y’all know how much I love Ralph Fiennes already. The Reader is the best movie I’ve seen in quite some time, and I personally think it should have received Best Picture for 2008. I was hesitant to watch this at first, because the previews made it look like such a downer. And even though there was sadness and it involved stuff about the Holocaust, I didn’t find it to be depressing. I was captivated by the performances. I really liked how philosophical, moral, and ethical questions are raised but the viewer is left to think about the answers on their own.