I saw two really varied movies this week, after getting hands of them a little later than I had hoped. Here goes.
The Passion of the Christ
I like controversial movies. They catch my attention and pique my curiosity. I first read about this movie in a writeup in Time magazine while it was being shot. On the cover, it seemed like a good idea. A movie shot entirely in Aramaic (in which the word for father seems to be Abba, Urdu influence perhaps, or maybe even vice-versa) and directed by Gibson (I disliked his Patriot, but the Braveheart remains a movie I like immensely), this movie seemed to be the perfect fodder for controversy. You just got a Christian president while Jews were up protesting the Anti-Semitism that was potentially a feature of the movie. All the relevant groups had been engaged. Cut to the movie. The movie deals with the last 12 hours of Christ leading upto his crucifixion. Now, I am not a Christian and while I am familiar with the story, it wasn't so integral to me that I wouldn't be able to watch this movie objectively. So how is the movie? Well, it is filled with mind-numbing violence. Christ gets beaten up from the start to the end of the movie. Given the amount of bruises he suffers, I even wonder how he survives till the crucifixion. There is very little dialogue, music is ok and there is extra emphasis on the slo-mo shots. Is this a movie for our times? Is the director trying to tell us that given the exposure to violence that we have on TV and movies, his way of telling us that Christ's suffering surpasses all others is to show it in the most graphic manner possible? Perhaps. If the message is to emphasize Christ's sacrifice, it somehow got lost in the way. You do have the most famous quotes from Bible popping up all over the place, so you can identify in part with what's going on. I would recommmend this movie if you are an avid movie-watcher, else skip it.
This was one of the most talked about movies last year. A low budget movie with no known stars, this movie got 5 nomimations at the Oscars. A movie about two friends spending a week in wine country as they go through their mid-life crisis, this movie is steeped in humor and skillful characterizations. Directed by Alexander Payne (About Schmidt), this movie takes you on an unexpected ride and has depth in its conetnt if you pay attention. A failed novelist Miles, is the best man for his friend Jack's wedding. He takes Jack, a former soap star, to a trip into the wine-country of California. The contrasting characters of the depressed and negative Miles and the horny Jack throw up a volatile cocktail when two women enter the mix. From there on, the movie is an amalgamation of witty, charming and insightful moments that lead to a satisfying climax. Of the performances, Paul Giammati's acting stands out. He sinks into the character neck deep and comes out triumphant. This is not a classic in my books, but is definitely a must-watch.
A recent post by Geetanjali about a blogger's meet in Bombay made me rue the missed opportunity there. Nonetheless, how about a Seattle based blogger's meet? Just a thought. Will have to see responses to consider that possibility