Despite the poster and the film, Easter is a joyous occasion. Jesus is risen indeed.
I really don’t know how much I actually need to say. Mel Gibson’s blockbuster arrived to mixed reviews, made a boatload of cash on a small budget, and laughed at the face of any sort of “bad publicity” it may have gotten, earning a few well deserved Academy Award nominations for the effort. The story, though still slightly embellished, is a simple retelling of the final hours of Jesus Christ’s life and is relatively predictable compared to Scorsese’s own rendering of the event.
The Passion is not primarily about narrative, which for some viewers may serve to be its undoing, along with the sheer amount of blood and gore that literally fills most of the movie’s running time. Is it necessary to watch this, as an adult or particularly as a teenager, to comprehend and appreciate what Jesus went through? That’s not an easy question for me to answer, but the film has a macabre talent, and it shows it off all too well.
“Is there a story,” I once asked myself, “where instead of an ordinary person being propped up on a pedestal and touted as a Christ figure, the reverse happens?” I’d long imagined Jesus and Mary Magdalene enjoying an evening in a corner diner, savoring life at its most mundane as any of us might do.
Director Martin Scorsese, who himself loves The Robe and introduces the fiftieth-anniversary edition, places on the screen a book adaptation that I must first describe as “riveting.” For better or worse, the story openly acknowledges and embraces its scriptural divergences, which it uses to create an original if sometimes reckless narrative that mostly remains powerful all the way through.
When a recently hired columnist begins to speak out against the cultural and economic injustices endured by her city’s maids of African descent (“the help”), she establishes herself not as a white messiah but as an amplifier for the opinions and ideas these disenfranchised yet intelligent women hold. The Help smartly rises above its own civil-rights trappings, becoming a memorable and exceptionally well written character drama.
It doesn’t take much to make a story feel fresh. Take the concept of a time-honored romantic tale, then start it in a mental hospital, focusing on a penitent hero with a difficult past, some major mistakes, and scars to show for both. He’s not perfect, but it makes no difference–he’s already got our attention, and he’s desperate to win his wife back.
For our heroine, consider a young woman who grieves over her husband’s untimely death and lives as though she’s still married. She makes some counterproductive decisions, but her own needs are all too clear to see. Maybe she’ll find love again someday.
While some of Silver Linings Playbook’s character and narrative decisions seem unwise or downright neglectful, the story arguably has its heart in the right places, even if it’s taking those intentions and giving them meaning that often proves the toughest. In the end, sometimes a man just wants to see his beloved again. Sometimes that causes its own problems.
Yes, the given distance is wrong, but the minimalist design really works.
Peace of mind is a precious thing. Sam Bell, nearing the end of his three-year work contract on the far side of Earth’s natural satellite, has every reason to cherish his understanding of himself and his life. He’s a devoted and lonely father with a beautiful wife and child waiting for him back home, and all he has to do is to hold out for a few more weeks until he is relieved.
Remove all romantic notions of such a life from your mind, and try to imagine that your combat skills were the foremost thing you understood about the world. Concepts such as love and innocence would be foreign to you, and you would have to learn to appreciate the vast difference between intellect and experience.
Hanna is an uneven but conceptually remarkable story of a teenager who embarks on a journey to discover what there is to see and do in the world outside of her unfortunate upbringing. Does this sound like a fairy tale? In a way it is, if the late Tom Clancy had penned it. The film is almost as much of an old-fashioned but realistic “fantasy” as a modern-day thriller, and the clash of moods and settings makes for a fairly creative product.
The original RoboCop is a delight of an action film that boasts total mastery over its tone and intent from moment to moment. It knows when to be subtle and to be excessive. It knows when to be exciting, thought-provoking, or even heartbreaking. It revels in unsophisticated fun and at times becomes downright goofy, but the movie is always well aware of its purpose, which it simply keeps on expanding. It likely won’t appeal to viewers who shun depictions of intense violence (which are present even in the edited-for-television version, which was my only viewing option at the time), but moviegoers who can accept these gruesome yet exaggerated moments may indeed find themselves laughing.
Numerous tasks and technical issues have prevented me from being able to cover all of the movies I’d planned to get to, so I am going to end my spotlight on computer-generated films on a high note, with my favorite entry from DreamWorks and one of the best examples of the medium I’ve ever seen. How to Train Your Dragon, despite its narrative issues, is a wondrously crafted movie that is as enjoyable as it is gorgeous.
I didn’t think Disney had it in them. An unironic fairy tale, in 2010–long after DreamWorks’ Shrek had endeavored to tear the genre’s conventions to bits, during a time when (as I recall) the popularity of George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series was ramping up with the television show on the horizon? It still works. The idea of a girl kept in a tower by an evil witch may not seem new, but this story gladly justifies its existence with plenty of good ideas that make it a modern classic.
I’m sending my spotlight on Pixar films out with a bang before I move onto films from other companies. The Incredibles is a novel and insightful glimpse into the lives of a family of superheroes, who grapple with issues much more mundane than deciding whether to go to school or save the world. How are sibling rivalries resolved when your children both have superpowers? Do those powers give children an unfair advantage when competing against others, or is this no different from normal children triumphing over those with less skill or ability? Perhaps the most important question the film asks is this: When is the time to be a hero to the many, and when is the time to be a hero to your family?