30 May 2006
  the da vinci code (part deux)
so went to see the code again yesterday. i think someone should make a movie that has a whole bunch of different endings someday. that way every time you go to the theater you don't know what ending you are going to get. cause even with movies that john and i watch over and over again i still get like anxious about how it they are going to end. anyways, in this case, nothing changed, but i didn't mind.

actually i think i even liked it better the second time. since john and i have been trying to learn more and more about the code and stuff, i keeping realizing new things about the story. here are some new revelations i had about the movie while watching it yesterday.

* no matter how hard you try, you can't see paul bettany's wang in the self-flaggelation scenes.

* audrey tatou is not only surprisingly hot, she is probably the best driver in francophone-landia.

* opus dei is a group of fundamentalist catholic crazies, but it still seems like it would be fun to join since i guess all the members are 007-esque masters of espionage and international intrigue who carry around guns and sacks of cash.

* the french cannot be trusted, the swiss are all criminals, the italians control the world and the english are self-obsessed but the americans. . . they just wander around aimlessly marking their territory and getting shot at. how true, how true.

* ian mckellan has got to be the first 60+ years old gay british dude to be the star of the two most popular movies in the world simultaneously.*yea homosexuality*
26 May 2006
  religion and film
so as anyone who has seen the e true hollywood story of growing pains knows, kirk cameron is a tremendous tool. he was on some fox news show the other night where they had a panel talking about the code and he came on to talk about how religion is becoming increasingly popular in hollywood movies. (whaaa?) i don't understand this whole dialogue that has been going on since mel gibson's you know what came out that religion has suddenly become film fodder. films have ALWAYS been made reflecting religious themes since pretty much forever. the ten commandments (1956), ben hur (1959), the agony and the ecstasy (1965) jesus christ superstar (1973), the life of brian (1979), last temptation of christ (1988), dogma (1999). . . anyways there is a bunch.

more importantly, it sort of seems to me that it is almost impossible to make any important movie that does not have some sort of spiritual or religious element, you know. just because a movie has Christ in its title or in its movie poster, doesn't mean that it has a monopoly on God. i was just looking through some of john and i's movies and i found dozens that i would characterize as having prominent religious themes. here are five good ones:

1. el crimen de padre amaro . . . you really can't go wrong with gael garcía bernal. this movie came out a few years ago and it probably isn't gael's best movie or anything but it is mexican melodrama at its best. in the movie gael, padre amaro, comes to a small town to be an apprentice priest, and he accidentally falls in love with a girl who works for the parish. he commences a sexual relationship with her and drama ensues. padre amaro pretty ruthlessly treats the issue of politics within the catholic church and the conflict that often arises between politics and faith. it definitely doesn't leave you feeling really good about religion, but, unless you are the mel, that really shouldn't be the point.

2. breaking the waves. . . it probably wasn't lars von trier's goal in making this movie, but it actually made me think a lot about conservative christians in the u.s. and how these communities tend to breed two groups of people: the 'in' group that the church champions and the 'out' group who end up scarred drug addicts and murderers because they have not been accepted. in waves, von trier presents a hyper-religious commune in scotland. the main character bess marries a man who works on oil rigs, and when he is injured at work, he urges her to have sex with men and come back to tell him about the experience. like most of von trier's work this is an absolutely gut wrenching story. and also as in most of von trier's work it leaves the viewer with an unquestionable moral in the end. in this case the moral happens to be: beware morality.

3. house of sand and fog. . . this movie just came out a couple years ago, and i think it is one of the best movies i have ever seen in regards to the issue of race. however, it also inevitably deals with religion as well. jennifer connelly is sort of an overwhelmed woman put in trust of her family's home. but she accidentally fails to pay the mortgage and it gets auctioned off. an iranian family purchases it, and connelly tries, through the aid of a police officer, to convince him to return the house to her. i think it is sort of sad that in this day and age there are not more (non-terrorist) islamic film roles and this movie sort of explains why. it is almost like the christian u.s. is physically and spiritually incapable of understanding islamic people at this point in time. and whenever the two groups try to communicate, it always results in intolerance.

4. camila. . . this argentinian movie sort of echoes padre amaro above, and i certainly think the latter was inspired in some ways by the former. however, camila provides an additional religious commentary regarding the role of women in the Catholic Church in the 19th century. in the 1840s argentina was in the grips of a dictator and women's roles were strictly mandated in society and in the Church itself. camila is sort of a free spirit who reads censured literature and too frequently steps out of her accepted female role. she falls in love with the local priest and the two run away together in the middle of the night. on one hand this movie kind of bothers me because i can't imagine a society unified in its assent to a single leader and a single moral paradigm. but on the other hand, the filmmaker very well supports this argument by her presentation of violence in 19th century buenos aires. i almost can't even believe camila would make the choices that she does.

5. Yo, la peor de todas. . . well i didn't mean for three of my five recommendations to be spanish language movies, but there are just so many good ones to choose from. this mexican movie is the biopic of famed 17th century protofeminist poet sor juana inés de la cruz. sor juana hoped to study in the university, but women were not permitted at that time. so she entered the convent because that is the only place where women were permitted to read and learn. she became an influential writer and scientist, due partially to her lesbian relationship with the wife of the viceroy. of course eventually the bishop gets pissed off at how respected sor juana is, finds her works blasphemous and punishes her. this is a true story of perhaps the most influential woman ever in the Catholic Church. it is inspiring and disheartening at the same time. it leaves me feeling that if sor juana could continue to be a spiritual person even as it was being beaten out of her, then others should follow in her footsteps and ignore the constant exclusions of the Church (capital C).
21 May 2006
  the DaVinci code was DaAwesome

yes we all know that gays and migrants are the root of all evil. its a difficult to escape 'fact' communicated daily by the media, congress and, according to his good friends jerry falwell and pat robertson, god himself. however, long, long ago there was another root of all evil:


damn those christians. damn them all to hell. it turns out that about 16 or 17 hundred years ago some christians created a fabric of lies in order to ensure the uninterrupted eminence of contemporary potentates. the result of these early christians' actions has been a legacy of holy wars between those in the 'true' or 'rational' religious organizations and countless groups of infidels, most notably women. More importantly, however, another negative result of those wicked, wicked christians has been that much of world history has been lost forever (well to almost everyone at least).

thank you da vinci code for giving me yet another reason to resent christians™. sure dan brown's book and ron howard's movie are self professed fiction. and i am a self professed intelligent person who more or less understands the difference between what is real and what is contrived. but i find myself increasingly believing in at least parts of this story. on one hand i think i am just responding to a week of history channel code-related specials. and on the other hand i think the story telling in these texts is just really compelling. but really i think i just WANT to believe in this story because it would provide validation to a lot of people. and also it's just fucking cool.

it is hard for me to recommend this movie to people who haven't read the book, but at least i can continue to impress the necessity that you all have to read it. honestly i haven't enjoyed reading a book this much in a while. and john, who isn't a really big reader, devoured the whole thing in like two days. sure it isn't great writing, but at the very least it is great story telling.

but if you have read the book, you definitely should go watch the film. I would argue that the two texts are in some ways separate, but they are at least great supplements of one another. I mean, I really enjoyed each separately, but, at the same time, watching this movie actually made me like the book even more. Ron Howard did a good job of extracting the really visual parts of the novel and illuminating them on the screen while he deemphasized the more literary parts of the story that brown really focuses on, namely symbology. The result is that seeing a lot of the art and images discussed in the book made me better appreciate the textual descriptions, but reading the novel itself still gives the film's viewer a greater appreciation of the nuances of the quest itself.

i know the movie has gotten some bad reviews, but i honestly don't understand them at all. most people have criticized the movie for being boring, but the last thing i would describe this movie as is boring. i mean, i think the same critics that think the code is dull will probably think the third fast and the furious movie is full of excitement. i was pretty much glued to the screen from beginning to end and couldn't point out a single boring stretch.

the only problem i had with the movie, which is a surprisingly small one, was the lead, tom hanks. i can't imagine why they cast him in this role. it is almost ridiculous. first of all, he couldn't have made his character langdon less interesting. he pretty much walks around in a fog through the whole movie. and i doubt anyone really buys him as a famous and well respected symbologist. he seems goofy and kinda stupid. but basically it isn't too hard to just ignore him. i mean paul bettany, audrey tatou, ian mckellan and jean reno are all so captivating that you can just not pay attention to tom hanks and enjoy the rest of the movie.

so if you haven't read the book go read it. if you have read the book go see the movie. don't listen to the critics. i have a feeling they are probably all christians anyway. evil, evil christians.
19 May 2006
  the da vinci code. . .
will begin in 100 minutes. *yea*
  I've got my tickets!!

My tickets! Cant wait!

10 May 2006
  judi dench's fish and chips
okay so i had every intention of not writing any more posts about dame judi dench, cause i thought i had pretty much exhausted the subject over the past week. i even had john change the banner and everything so i could get onto something else. but for some reason the dame seems to have been following me lately.

anyways, this is a clip from the simpsons' episode where bart takes the family on vacation to london and they stop at judi dench's fish and chips. (click on the picture above and you can watch the video). i just wrote about it last week in a post about why i love the dame. then it was on television, so i think it was definitely a sign for me to post it. john and i watched it like 8 times and i am still laughing. enjoy.
08 May 2006
  the da vinci code: countdown minus 12 days
so as most everyone probably knows john and i took a trip to paris last year. one of the things that we did was go to the louvre. john took some pretty cool pictures of the mona lisa. he got right up close and everything. pretty impressive. anyways, the other day i just happened to have my blacklight out and i started examining the pictures under it. wouldn't you believe it but this is what it uncovered. i don't know about you, but john and i think it might be some sort of. . . code. if only we had some way of deciphering it? but alas.

(p.s. 12 days 'til the da vinci code!!! in the words of the french, mon dieu!)
06 May 2006
  dame judi dench, feminist icon?
in the shipping news, she plays the lesbian foil to cate blanchett's selfish whore. when kevin spacey, a hapless loser has been used by women almost to the point of his own demise, dench, his aunt, appears to save him from his downward spiral. she is the first strong woman ever to appear in spacey's life and she takes him to his ancestral home in newfoundland where she teaches him how to be a father, but more importantly how to be independent.

in shakespeare in love, she plays the virgin queen, elizabeth i. of course, elizabeth is legendary in part as one of the strongest female leaders in european history, a woman who famously said the she had the body of a weak and feeble woman, but the heart and stomach of a king. in this fictional movie, her brief performance presides over the tale of a woman who subverts the patriarchy of renaissance theater, becoming one of the first females to perform on stage.

in iris, she enters the character of the famously bisexual writer and lesbian icon iris murdoch. murdoch was a writer whose most famous works were produced in the 1960s and 70s and were eminently popular with the hippie generation. she often included gay characters in her works who were different than any who had ever before been portrayed in literature. in iris, dench portrays the author as an incredibly self-confident proud woman, as she embarks on a unlikely romance with an awkward male colleague.

in mrs. brown, she plays queen victoria, probably the most powerful woman who ever lived. in the movie, dench, as queen victoria who famously orchestrated the creation of the british empire in the 19th century, is depressed after the death of her husband. however, partially because of a scandalous relationship with a male friend, she is eventually able to regain her former stature and return to her position of immense power.

in goldeneye, tomorrow never dies, the world is not enough, die another day and the upcoming casino royale, she plays james bonds' headstrong, immovable boss M. although these movies center upon the womanizing, hyper-masculine bond, dench is always there to ground the double-o, essentially showing him who is boss. this is especially evident in die another day, when she is miffed by bonds' apparent release of information to the north koreans, putting him in shackles in a hospital until she finds out he is clean.

in mrs. henderson presents, she performs as the recently widowed wwii era socialite who refuses to fulfill her expected female social role, instead choosing, scandalously, to become not only an entrepreneur, but one involved in the promotion of a suspect creative venture. this is perhaps dench's pinnacle moment as onscreen feminist. she not only blatantly refuses to acquiesce to her male colleagues' demands, but she actively manipulates christopher guest and bob hoskins to acquiesce to hers'.

i was reading about the dame the other day and i came across an interview with her from the advocate in 2001, where she said that she was essentially unaware of her iconic status in the gay community, but was flattered by the attention. dench isn't really a media darling, and her social life and political views aren't well publicized but it is hard for me to believe, judging by the film roles she has chosen, that the dame is not staunchly feminist. moreso than any other actress, the dame has brought a series of strong female characters to the screen, and i think that she will be remembered in history as someone who has provided so much character and self-importance to female roles in a hollywood era that is dominated by romantic supporting and depressing shrewish roles for women.

dame judi dench is not my favorite actress and her movies, although i enjoy them, aren't really at the top of my list. but she is definitely the contemporary actress i most admire. i can' t wait to see her later this year in notes on a scandal, where she performs in yet another movie about female empowerment and will probably win her second academy award.
05 May 2006
  casino royale
www. i saw the first teaser trailer for the new 007 flick, casino royale this week. you can watch it here. honestly, it isn't too exciting though. i hate when they release trailers that really give you no idea whatsoever what the plot of the movie is. basically it just shows a bunch of stuff blowing up.

honestly i am not all that psyched about it really. john is looking forward to it though. i dunno. i really like pierce brosnan and i'm disappointed that the producers decided not to fork over the cash to bring him back. i have seen daniel craig in a few other things (he is in munich) and he doesn't really do anything for me. frankly, he is pretty boring and not very attractive. i will give him a chance, but i don't have very high hopes for him.

casino royale comes out november 17.
03 May 2006
  mrs. henderson presents

okay it's a movie about a bunch of old people. strike one. the cast is mostly composed of naked women. strike two. and it's a *gulp* british comedy. strike three. but that is what is so remarkable about the fact that i actually quite enjoyed dame judi's latest.

john and i went to the independent theater down the street to watch this on oscar weekend. i kept putting off seeing it because it didn't interest me at all, but we finally decided to get it over with, since it was the only nominated movie i hadn't yet seen. the average age of the other theater goers was in the triple digits, and things weren't looking very good right from the start.

don't get me wrong, john and i love the dame (well especially him, but i do enjoy her as well). but it's just that i am not really into old british movies about "the war." and if i were, i probably wouldn't sate my intellectual appetite with dry british humor, rather i would stay at home and watch the non-stop hitler-related programming of the history channel. but as it turns out, mrs. henderson presents isn't a movie about age as much as it is about agelessness and it isn't as much about the war as it is about peace.

that's right, this is one final addition to the past year's relentless parade of antiwar features.

the basic story: the dame's husband dies and (at least partially) to stave off boredom she buys a theater. at first her innovative ideas bring in a lot of customers, but then, after the other local theaters start copying her, business begins sliding downhill. in order to lure in new clientele, she changes the show into a sort of voguing thing starring nude women. when wwii breaks out, and the nazis begin bombing london most of the theaters in the city close, but mrs' henderson keeps her theater open and it becomes a hit with returning soldiers.

for me, this movie works on two levels. first of all, i think the filmmaker is presenting an interesting perspective on the role of women in wartime. it is interesting how the war makes the female roles of mother, wife and lover sort of heroic positions. but, at the same time that it cements these roles as the necessary place of women, the characters in this movie are constantly negotiating within that boundaries of that place, resulting in the evolution of entirely new gender roles. i think it is no small feat that the director of this film was able to make a movie about strippers and turn those women into national symbols, true heroes.

still, on the other hand, this is just a fun movie to watch. the acting is really excellent (dame judi dench, bob hoskins and christopher guest). and the writing is quick and clever, although the story is melodramatic and could easily be the basis of an english telenovela. my favorite parts revolved around the dame's deadpan comedy. hearing her use the word "pudenda" and discuss how her strippers will be shaving their bodies was pretty priceless. nobody else could give such a speech and sound any less sexy (well maybe elizabeth berkeley, but that would be in a different way).

in any case, mrs. henderson came out on dvd last week, so everyone can see what i am talking about. if you like chick flicks and dames then you will definitely enjoy it:)
Luke and John talk about movies

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