Recently, Sarah and I have been on a RedBox craze. It’s so great to be able to run down to the store and rent a movie for $1. If any of you have ever rented at Redbox you will know that the selection is limited, and that not all of their options are exactly considered “blockbuster.” To help you out, I thought I would share some thoughts about the 5 Redbox movies I have seen in the last two weeks.
Starring: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
Plusses: This movie came highly recommended and it was definitely worth watching. I am always impressed when nothing really ever happens in a movie, and yet it keeps my attention from beginning to end. From the beginning the viewer gets the intimation that the story is about more than the simple plot-line: new, progressive priest is suspected of acting inappropriately with a child by the overbearing, harsh headmistress nun. This is an allegorical tale of faith and doubt that may cause us to second guess the posture that we take toward our own “certainties” and our relationships with other people. There are no easy answers, as the movie makes clear, but if you enjoy thinking about the questions, than this is a story for you.
Minuses: While this movie does promote certain stereotypes of religious people (the angry nun, the pedophiliac priest), it does so in a way that is neither mean, nor particularly unfair. The element of mystery ultimately calls question on the very stereotypes it is portraying. Nevertheless, the stereotypes are there. Also, I wanted to use a clip from this movie for a youth group talk, but had trouble finding a scene that wasn’t too heavy for students who may have been abused themselves.
Starring: Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston
Plusses: This movie is a great one for any dog-lovers (Sarah and I definitely are), but it is about much more than a dog. This movie is really about family; about the choices that we make for our families and what we do when life gets tougher than we think we can handle. Throughout the story, as the characters struggle to live their lives despite difficulties, Marly stands by as the one constant. This movie really portrays the role that pets play in our lives: at once comic relief, irritating inconvenience, constant companion, best friend.
Minuses: At times pretty cheesy. It can be a pretty sad movie if you have ever loved a dog (Sarah cried alot in this movie… but then again, she cries in most movies).
Starring: Frank Langella, Michael Sheen
Plusses: Overall a pretty good movie. It adds a personal element to the prototypical government scandal/cover-up (every subsequent government scandal is associated with it by way of the “-gate” ending). As I was only just born when this happened, it was interesting to get a picture of what was at stake in this particular interview. For my grandparents, however, who had seen the original interview and knew the personalities of those involved, it was less interesting (they fell asleep, but this may have more to do with their age than the movie, so I won’t count it as conclusive evidence of boredom).
Minuses: I can’t help but feel like the movie overplays the “competition” aspect of the interview between David Frost and Nixon. The movie portrays Frost as the victor, who goes on to bigger and better things while Nixon fades into obscurity. The truth, however, is that I have never even heard of David Frost (as with most people my age) and Nixon fell into obscurity more from his advancing Alzheimer’s disease than anything else. And while it is true that the most famous (infamous) thing about Nixon’s administration was the Watergate scandal, there is also no denying his maverick skills as a diplomat and a statesman. Of course, with many people today angry about similar circumstances (years of war under a conservative President), there may be some displaced political passions going into the making and viewing of Frost/Nixon.
Grade: B –
Starring: Will Smith, Rosario Dawson, Woody Harrelson
Plusses: I will try to talk about this movie without ruining it for anyone who may like to watch it. While the critics lambasted this movie (its scored a meager 28% on http://www.rottentomatoes.com), I actually thought it was a very compelling movie about self-giving love. The opening scene of the movie draws you in, and I stayed engaged the entire time. This movie makes you think. A good exercise may be to gather people together to watch this movie and then discuss the following question: is this a redemptive story? Why? Why not?
Minuses: At times a bit predictable, at times a bit slow. The end is particularly difficult for sensitive people (dare I say scarring) especially if it comes as a surprise.
Grade: B +
Starring: Renee Zellweger, Harry Connick Jr
Plusses: Pretty funny at times. You will get brownie points for watching this with your girlfriend/wife. Actually brings up some meaningful questions: at what cost do we pursue our career? what happens when a corporate executive actually gets to know the people they employ? Is there a creative way to save jobs while cutting costs and competing in the market economy?
Minuses: You have to be from Minnesota to get 3/4 of the jokes (and even then they are only mildly funny, according to Sarah). Super Cheesy (but then again it is a comedy-romance, what do you expect?).
Grade: C +