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Category: Movies

Munching on Media

by Scott Smith

I finished reading Amy Knox Brown’s Three Versions of the Truth. One of my favorite short story collections. Amy’s collection gave me compelling perspectives of characters I loved and cared about. She also delivered on place in a big way. I’ve been to Lincoln, Nebraska but now I feel I’ve been to Lincoln. Another plus was her use of short-short stories. I’ve never been a fan of the genre. Amy has made me one — or at least a fan of her short-shorts. She just nails these stories and works with in its constraints. Go get her book and enjoy.

Robinson and I watched Blood Diamond. Yeah, that was bad. A mess. Avoid. Go rent/buy Helvetica as soon as possible. Do you think a movie about a font is compelling? No… Well, it is.

I listened to Steve Martin’s autobiography. After you read Amy’s book and watch Helvetica, download this book from iTunes. Steve Martin is smart and funny, and his life is worthy of a book. Sure, you could buy the hardcover only I think having Steve Martin read his book adds to the experience.

Today, after Madel’s band dork competition, we headed to B&N for books. New Russell Banks is out, The Reserve, and I finally own Presentation Zen. Zen is gorgeous. Garr Reynolds, its author, has got a lot of love for its publication and I can see why.

Btw, I kid Madel and Coleman for being band dorks. After today’s competition, Madel is heading to state. The judge of Madel’s solo heaped praise upon her. If she does well at state, I will raise her to geek status.

The Queen

by Scott Smith

Now there’s a fine film, The Queen.

Helen Mirren was delicious.

The story frames The Queen of England around Diana’s death. I never cared about Diana’s celebrity or the mess surrounding her death. This film had to climb a high mountain for me to care about these characters.

Mirren had me in the first minute. I even cared about Charles and Tony Blair. James Cromwell as Prince Philip was pitch-perfect (rather, spot-on).

The real Tony and The Queen

The film managed to humanize The Queen without bringing her down to us mere mortal level. According to the movie, she drives and takes long walks with her dogs.

The Queen was the perfect Sunday morning movie, just luscious.  I now need to go watch the last episode of A History of Britain, the one covering Orwell and Churchill. I need more British-ness before watching a few hours of the NFL.

Babel — Too Much

by Scott Smith

Rented Babel. Not a good move. The film is too long. Someone should have told the auteur to cut the film by 30 minutes. Note to Ken Burns — Someone at PBS should have told you 6 hours top for The War.

Back to Babel.

I could care less about the characters except for the Japanese teen girl who broke my heart. I didn’t care because the political agenda controlled the story. Maybe that’s why I liked the teen — she didn’t seem to suffer at the hands of ‘The Rifle.’

The rifle begins our tale when a pair of pre-teen Moroccan brothers take their father’s new rifle with them to the mountains. They are grazing the family’s goats, which would be the definition of boredom. Why not shoot the gun?

And they do. At a tourist bus. Go figure, the youngest brother fires a rifle better than Butch and Sundance robbed banks.

The film breaks into four parts: Moroccan kids, white people (Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette) in Morocco, the Japanese teen, and the Mexican nanny who cares for Pitt and Blanchette’s kids.

Four different perspectives is quite difficult in a novel and damn problematic in a film. The rifle is a bit flimsy to hold the pieces together. Also, using the press as a thread weaving in and out of the stories is a tired device.

Our auteur aims at violence, police and the press instead of a compelling story with characters deserving my understanding. He misses badly, like the older Moroccan brother shooting at jackals with ‘The Rifle.’

Little Miss Sunshine

by Scott Smith

I never had any interest in seeing Little Miss Sunshine. The cast is just fine, but the film’s marketing made me wonder if this was a knock-off of a spelling-bee-feel-good film.

It ain’t. This is a lovely film. It explores a weird family dynamic with a junior miss beauty pageant as the major plot line. By the end of the film, you care about these characters. They don’t need redemption, which is the usual.

I didn’t realize it was nominated and awarded so many awards. I don’t pay attention to awards shows. I have to say giving the writer the award for original screenplay was the right move.

Favorite line: “Let Olive be Olive.” Favorite moment: Adam Arkin snorting heroin.