Not-so Enchanted

Posted on November 30, 2007 at 10:20 am

One of the best movie critics around is Slate’s Dana Stevens, and this week she has an excellent column about the adorable “Enchanted,” pointing out that there is one very un-enchanting element to the movie. She enjoyed the movie and was a fan of Amy Adam’s performance as Giselle.

But there was something that depressed me about “Enchanted,” a grim reality that occasionally peeped through the whimsy like New York City glimpsed from the animated fields of Andalasia. This sinking feeling had little to do with what could be seen as the movie’s retrograde affirmation of true love and happy endings—after all, if you’re going to start complaining about marriage as a plot resolution device, you have to throw out every comedy from Shakespeare on down. No, that intermittent sense of yuckiness sprang from the movie’s solemn celebration of a ritual even more sacred than holy matrimony: shopping.

I was also disappointed by the shopping montage. Couldn’t they have bonded over reading a book together? Cooking something special? Going to a museum or concert or the theater? Playing dress-up?

Of course, “shopping with your mother,” specifically for femininity-enhancing, wallet-reducing princess clothes, is precisely the activity that propels the global Disney empire forward. The scene between Morgan and Giselle in the spa isn’t played for irony; these two are truly bonding over the manicure counter, and Morgan’s mission to save the day via retail proves successful…I couldn’t suppress that yuck factor: Does these little girls’ happily-ever-after consist only in getting Mommy to buy the right dress?

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Commentary

What does “The Golden Compass” say about God and religion?

Posted on November 29, 2007 at 10:48 am

The Catholic League says that Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials Trilogy (The Golden Compass/The Subtle Knife/The Amber Spyglass) “bash Christianity and promote atheism.” It has called on its members to boycott the film version of the first of the books. According to AP, “the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office for Film and Broadcasting gave the film, which is rated PG-13, a warm review. The film is not blatantly anti-Catholic but a ‘generalized rejection of authoritarianism.'”
Here at Beliefnet, Idol Chatter blogger Donna Freitas says that the books are a “stunning retelling of salvation.” She is co-author of Killing the Imposter God: Philip Pullman’s Spiritual Imagination in His Dark Materials. Her exclusive interview with Pullman is fascinating, and should be viewed by anyone who has concerns about the movie’s appropriateness.
I will be posting my review of the film next week. In the meantime, I welcome comments and questions.

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Jim Judy’s Screenit.com

Posted on November 28, 2007 at 10:55 pm

I was delighted to see my friend Jim Judy and his screenit.com website interviewed by my friend Arch Campbell on the ABC station in Washington, DC. (Be patient — there is a brief commercial before the interview clip.) Jim’s site does a terrific job providing parents with detailed information about every possible category of potential concern. I am a long-time subscriber and I highly recommend it.

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Commentary

List: Best Movie Hitmen (and Hitwomen)

Posted on November 7, 2007 at 4:59 pm

In honor of the release of the Coen brothers’ “No Country for Old Men,” Entertainment Weekly created a list of the greatest hired killer characters in movies. As with all lists, it’s a conversation-starter, not ender. Some good choices, of course, especially Jean Reno in “The Professional” and Travolta and Jackson in Pulp Fiction. The choices are classic, I suppose, but a little obvious. Some of the lesser-known movie hitmen who are well worth a look include William H. Macy in Panic and Lee Marvin’s Oscar-winning performance in Cat Ballou.

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Lists

Crying movies

Posted on November 6, 2007 at 11:03 am

Movies that make you cry (or sob or blubber uncontrollably)
Desson Thomson has a wonderful piece in the Washington Post about movies that make us cry, and a list of some examples sent in by readers. The usual suspects are there, from “Dumbo” to “Field of Dreams,” but some surprises, including Adam Sandler’s “Click” (“Never thought I would cry at an Adam Sandler movie — I usually don’t even admit to even going to one.”), “Star Trek: The Search for Spock,” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” I admit to tearing up at the end of that one, too. Some of the other movies that have made me cry: Waterloo Bridge, A Little Princess, Steel Magnolias, the one Thomson refers to as “that Michael Keaton movie” (My Life) and yes, An Affair to Remember.
Be sure to listen to Thomson’s graceful audio commentary on his own list, with such classic choices as “Old Yeller” and “Terms of Endearment.” I enjoyed the quotes from experts, especially Professor Mary Beth Oliver of Penn State, who said that these movies
cause us to contemplate what it is about human life that’s important and meaningful. . . . Those thoughts are associated with a mixture of emotions that can be joyful but also nostalgic and wistful, tender and poignant. Tears aren’t just tears of sadness, they’re tears of searching for the meaning of our fleeting existence.
Just reading those words made me a little damp-eyed. Sorry, I just need a minute here.

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