[Christianity Today Movies; October 26, 2007] The energy in the kitchen of an elegant Mexican restaurant in Manhattan is cranking up steadily, as the staff braces for the noon rush. One waitress, Nina, is running late, which is becoming a habit. She dashes in at the last minute, but Manny, the owner, tells her this is one time too many, and fires her on the spot. As Nina storms out, the head chef, Manny’s brother Jose (a mysteriously tragic guy, peeking out through a forest of beard and hair), follows her outside to make sure she’s OK. When he learns that she is pregnant,
[National Review Online, October 12, 2007] “We’re drowning in quirk,” wrote Michael Hirschorn in the September Atlantic Monthly. A few decades ago, humor was one thing (a Bob Hope pun, for example) and drama was another (say, “North by Northwest”). Now there’s all this in-between, poignant and sprightly in uneven doses. Here’s Napoleon Dynamite, dancing his friend Pedro’s way into high Student Government office; there’s David Cross on Fox’s “Arrested Development,” a would-be member of the Blue Man Group, self-blued except for the spot on his back he doesn’t know he couldn’t reach. Quirkiness is everywhere, even journalism. “This American Life” presents lives and topics, American and otherwise, that have been burnished to quiet strangeness. I got hooked with the episode about the man who discovered one of his cable channels was showing security-camera footage from a lobby somewhere. He went from thinking this hilarious, to tuning in out of occasional curiosity, to obsessing, taping it while at work so he could catch up when he came home. You know, stuff like that. Quirky. The King of Quirk is surely Wes Anderson, director of “The Darjeeling Limited” and four previous films, all of them acclaimed and odd:
[Christianity Today Movies, Sept 28, 2007] I keep thinking I saw this movie before, except that then it starred Shirley Temple. A lovely young person appears and touches the lives of people from all walks of life, bringing them a little bit of sunshine, and guilelessly showing the way to a better life. But in the other movie there wasn’t a close-up of maggots crawling through a moose carcass. Not that I remember, anyway. “Into the Wild” is a pretty infuriating movie, because it insists on treating the central character as an escapee from “Godspell.”
[Christianity Today Online; July 31, 2007] Adam Ravetch and his wife Sarah Robertson spent 15 years filming Arctic wildlife in its harsh and glorious habitat. In “Arctic Tale,” the results of that labor of love have been edited down to 96 minutes and arranged (somewhat artificially) to tell the story of a polar bear, Nanu, and a walrus, Seela. The movie is aimed at children, particularly the kind of kid who is enthralled by the cable channel Animal Planet. These kids have a more realistic view of the interdependence of life on earth than we did at that age, educated by things like Disney’s “Bambi.” So, although the film doesn’t go for the full horror treatment (I haven’t quite gotten over the moment in “Winged Migration” where a big mower relentlessly advances on a tiny peeping bird), neither does it look away from some bracing truths.
[National Review Online, June 29, 2007] My companion at the screening of Pixar’s new animation feature, “Ratatouille,” pronounced this “the best movie I’ve ever seen.” Granted, she’s only six years old, and might not have seen as many movies as you have. But she’s seen virtually every great animated movie since the genre began, from Disney’s 1937 “Snow White” till today. I think the little lady knows what she’s talking about.
[National Review Online; June 22, 2007] On January 23, 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped on the streets of Karachi, Pakistan. Some weeks later a horrifying videotape arrived, documenting that he had been beheaded. In those intervening days, his wife Mariane and a team of friends and investigators tried desperately to find him, adding up the scarce clues that might enable them to save his life. It was nightmarish in a way we can hardly imagine. “A Mighty Heart” gives us a 100-minute tour of that nightmare.
[Ancient Faith Radio; June 15, 2007] Frederica: Here we are. I’m at a beautiful outdoor café, what was the name of this place? I’ve forgotten already. Tree, something, Italiano, I think. [Laughs] I’m looking around, I’m trying to see if there’s a sign. Anyway, I’m in Malibu Village in Malibu, California on an overcast day. It’s pleasantly cool; it’s just perfect here, as it so often is. June gloom, I’m told. I’m sitting here with my friend, Barbara Nicolosi, who is a screenwriter, who is a teacher of screenwriting and has a number of other talents and one of the things that frustrates her is Christians that think they’re going to write a screenplay and convert the world to Christianity with a script that is pretty unprofessional. But let me let you speak for yourself; just start in anywhere. Hit it, Barbara. They can’t see you moving your hands and making faces; you’ve actually got to – [laughs]
[Ancient Faith Radio; June 8, 2007] This movie theater here: the Muvico 24, is just south of Baltimore and it’s such a hoot. I don’t know too much about this company, this chain, Muvico theaters, but they build their theaters to have these grandiose themes, and this one is Egyptian temple, that’s the theme we have going on here. As you approach this 24-auditorium theater, there are these huge columns with big capitols on top. Everything looks like it’s destroyed, like it’s in ruins. It all has cracks painted into it, Egyptian figures going around these columns. I’m guessing there’s about 20 columns with black bases and then the sandstone rising up above that. Huge multi-colored panels and snake heads and all kinds of crazy things.
[National Review Online, May 25, 2007] What a perfect confection the first “Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003) was, droll and thrilling, marvelously fresh. The unexpected enthusiasm it received demanded a sequel or two, and the people obliged to supply them have my sympathy; it’s hard to do a sequel on “fresh.”
[Beliefnet, May 3, 2007] It’s just a guess, but the kind of person who hangs out on a website like this—a thoughtful person, intrigued by spiritual realities, seeking eternal truths–is probably not going to be the biggest fan of movies where stuff blows up. “Spider-Man 3,” the latest in the series from director Sam Raimi, is the action movie for them. It’s got pathos and ethical dilemmas and character complexity and romance and plot twists and church steeples and comedy and tragedy. And stuff that blows up.