February 02, 2003
Back to Signs

I didn't finish up last night -- let it gel some more in my head overnight.

[Moving this to more for spoiler space.]

This morning I saw Julia's comment about Episcopal priests -- are they called Father? *curious look* I hadn't realized there was a non-Catholic religion that did have priests as well, and the collars. I had honestly thought that was unique to Catholicism, which was what was confusing me. But if there is a religion with the collars, and the Father, and the marriage, then I'm cool. Although I think it would've been good to make that statement somewhere in the film since I think Catholicism is so often most associated with the collar (at least in my experience).

And of course, now I'm thinking it's time to go read some about the Episcopal faith. Since it's one I'm lacking knowledge in. *smiles*

I came up with some things I really liked about Signs, but most of them are acting or characterization. I loved the girl with the water. That is just so *true* about some girls. I remember I used to be like that -- I wouldn't drink water that had been sitting out. I even remember saying "it tastes old", so I was laughing every time she did it.

I liked the acting, but then, I generally do like Mel Gibson. I thought the kids were pretty good.

But overall, it felt slow, and it felt unresearched. I've had one comment about the fact that our world is covered in the aliens' greatest weakness. That was also what my husband said when it came up -- why the hell would the aliens *want* a planet covered with water when it can kill them? I can come up with at least one reason, I suppose -- to control the supply so that it cannot be used against them. But that still felt wrong, still fell way too simple. It made the ending taste funny.

I did like the concept of fate, that things happen for a reason. That nothing is coincidence and you must have faith and accept that things will work out. I like that, because it is very much my attitude, when I can manage to maintain it -- I try to look for the good in things, no matter how dark they see. Why? Well, if I dwell on the darkness, I can't bear it. If I look for what it means in the grander picture, then I can get on with my life and perhaps relax and even improve. And that is good.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 11:38 AM
February 01, 2003
Have you Seen Signs?

Okay, its not a complete and full review. Not yet, anway. Perhaps I'll update a little later, when its over. I'm only about an hour into it.

But there's something here that's bugging me. Can anyone explain to me exactly the relationship between Mel Gibson's character and the kids and his faith?? They keep calling him Father, and the pictures show him clearly wearing a Catholic priest's collar. This is reinforced by Tracy asking him to hear her confession. However, the implication is that these are truly his kids, and that his wife was killed, and that he only left the church when his wife was killed. But if he's a Catholic priest, he wouldn't have been married with kids.

It's bugging me. I like the movie so far, even though it's got a slow pace. But the religious thing is bugging me. I may not be Catholic. I may not be even Christian. But when people do religion, in the real world, I want it to be consistent. I *like* comparative religion, and I like stories about faith.

So, any takers out there? Wanna tell me something I missed? I have read a review of the movie that says it is also a story about faith, so maybe there's something still coming, too. But right now, it's just bugging me as an inconsistency, and unusual for Shyamalan's work.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 09:01 PM
December 01, 2002
The Little Drummer Boy

Today we Tivo'ed "The Little Drummer Boy". Neither Kevin nor I had seen it in ages, and its one of the few old Rankin-Bass Christmas specials that we don't own on DVD (since I went on a buying spree a few years ago). We both had fond memories of it, and wanted to share it with Danielle.

Wow. Okay, so that was so not what I remembered! I didn't remember it being so dark! It was done in the shadows of the Bible stories -- a tale to emphasize forgiveness at the end. In some ways, a good tale for today. Yes, there are painful and horrible things that happen, but only blame those responsible -- don't just globally blame everyone for it. A good lesson. But it was very vividly taught in the show.

The boy has everything stolen from him, but then the infant smiles, and his lamb is made whole and he learns forgiveness. A definite parable sort of thing.

I just remembered it being a lot lighter. Dani didn't really enjoy it, and I think it was too difficult for her to follow. And I no longer feel the urge to make sure I own it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:42 PM
October 27, 2002
Movie Review -- The Rules of Attraction

Wednesday was my annual day for playing hookie. *smiles* I took a half day off from work in order to have a fun date with Josh and go see a movie. Today, the movie of choice was The Rules of Attraction. Neither Liz nor Kevin had any desire to see it, so it was a great choice.

James Van Der Beek is one of the three main characters, and Jessica Biel one of the secondary characters. But this is no bright and shiny WB TV show. Nor is it even the studied teen trauma of those shows. If that's what you expect, do not see this movie.

What it is, is a dark story of the confusion of the lives of several college students. There is nothing light about the story. And it is artfully done (although perhaps a bit overdone on the art sometimes).

The movie begins with three mini-scenes. First, Lauren, describing how she was going to finally lose her virginity that night, but somehow ended up getting date-raped on film. Then the film moved backwards, rewinding through her scene in quick jumps to pick up on Paul, beginning at about the same moment in time and moving forward again through his attempted seduction of a man who insisted he was straight, and threw Paul (literally), out of his room. And then rewind again, bluntly backwards to pick up Sean and follow him forward through a hollow pickup at the fraternity party, moody and angry at something we don't yet understand.

And then, abruptly, the rewind happens again, taking the viewer back further and further, to the beginning of the story. At which point it follows the three characters forward, jumping from scene to scene in an expertly threaded story of three people who just can't seem to get it right.

There are questions at the end. Did the three scenes we saw at the beginning actually occur? The film seems to imply that Sean, at least, may have changed his destiny. And the end itself is ambiguous, or at least it was in our theatre -- we suspect they clipped a part of it while editing the final reel. *sighs* If anyone out there has seen it, drop me a note -- I'd like to know what ending *you* saw!

The characters are dry, and almost entirely unlikeable. But that is a part of the charm of the movie. This isn't a feel-good piece. Sean never gets it. Never. He finally manages to figure out that Paul is gay and trying to pick him up, but he never gets the intensity of the situation. And Paul, on the other hand, seems to find a depth of feeling from nothing at all, making that depth seem fake and out of place. Lauren... she goes through the movie with her illusions in place onlly to have everything shattered for her.

There is no happy ending. And there shouldn't be for these people. The ending seems right, seems appropriate.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:32 PM
August 16, 2002
Barbarella

I am watching Barbarella for the very first time and so far I have two impressions...

This movie is just plain WEIRD.

and

Jane Fonda looks surprisingly like Nicole Kidman. Or perhaps I should say it the other way around. But many of her expressions are similar, and evoke the same images.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:55 PM
July 18, 2002
Moulin Rouge

I have now seen Moulin Rouge. Even knowing what was coming... even seeing it, so obvious, from a mile away... I still bawled when it happened. It was wonderful. It was horrendously painful.

Gods... I loved it.

Do I need to say more? Half the world has seen it... many obsess over it. Suffice to say -- go see it. Make it through the first half, be ready for frenetic pace and strange cuts. Wonderful directing. Wonderful art and mood. Just absolutely wonderful.

(And on the who am I quiz I came up as Christian... yeah, I can see that.)

Posted by Deb Atwood at 10:11 PM
July 17, 2002
Movie Review -- But I'm a Cheerleader!

Finding this movie was a complete surprise. I bumped into it in the wee hours one night when Ryan was first born. I was up with him, and he was refusing to sleep, so I needed something to occupy my mind. I flipped through the movie channels and happened upon But I'm a Cheerleader!

I saw the first half that night, and wanted to see the rest, but had to Tivo it and watch it at another time. I finally managed to see the rest, and now I find I have to own a copy of it so I can share it! If you like farcical fare, and want to see RuPaul in a male role (!), I highly recommend this movie. I adored it, and was surprised by where it went (or rather, how it got there).

Spoilers ahead... click more, if you want to know, well, more. *grins*

When the movie first began, I thought it was a simple farce. Megan, a cheerleader, is entranced by images of her squad-mates anatomy, and can't stand french-kissing her boyfriend. Her friends and family perform an intervention, telling her they believe she is a (shock! horror!) lesbian, and then send her to True Directions to find her way back to heterosexuality. [RuPaul plays Mike, the male counselor at the school.]

Megan rebels the whole way there, uncertain she is a lesbian, but once there, she finally admits that perhaps she is. The school is peopled with a mix of young men and women, all in various stereotypes of homosexuality (Andre, one of the boys, is just SO stereotypical limpwristed).

As Megan goes through the steps of the program, she finds that she is attracted to Graham, a girl who arrived as a happily card-carrying lesbian from the get-go. And Graham returns it... The story becomes more serious as the two become friends, and then as they steal a night away from the school and their friendship shifts to love. It is then that the farce begins to be colored by the more serious matter of being true to oneself and to one's sexuality.

This is not a movie against homosexuality. The frightening thing is that places like True Directions DO exist. The irony in the movie is that if Megan had never been sent there, she might never have understood herself, and might have never been happy with herself, her sexuality, her life. She grows as a person there, from simply a cheerleader dating a football player, to a young woman who is scared of where life is taking her, but makes the decisions she has to in order to get where she needs to go.

It is a great movie, and I highly recommend it.

Posted by Deb Atwood at 08:20 PM