Movies

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

220px-On_Stranger_Tides_PosterTonight we finished watching Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011, PG-13).  From screenit:

A flamboyant pirate, his former nemesis, a feared pirate and various others set out to beat the rest in finding the legendary fountain of youth.

Finn really enjoys Jack Sparrow's antics.  I thought it was fine.  3 out of 5.

Moneyball

220px-Moneyball_PosterLast night we watched Moneyball (2011, PG-13).  From screenit:

A major league baseball general manager uses the numbers provided by his young statistics wizard in hopes of creating a winning team in a highly unorthodox way.

We enjoyed it, but I suspect I would have enjoyed it even more if I wasn't already acquainted with the concept.

I give it 4 out of 5.

The Book of Eli

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Last night Lisa and I watched The Book of Eli (2010,R).  From ScreenIt!:

In a post-apocalyptic world, a lone traveler continues on his quest west, but most contend with an educated villain and his array of thugs who want the potentially influential book in his possession.

At some point I'd heard from someone that this was a good film, so my expectations were a little bit elevated.  I thought is was just OK.

I give it 3 out of 5.

King Kong

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Tonight we watched King Kong (1976, PG).  From Wikipedia:

King Kong is a 1976 American monster movie produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by John Guillermin. It is a remake of the 1933 classic film of the same name, about how a giant ape is captured and imported to New York City for exhibition.

Finn thought it was a bit slow towards the beginning but got more interested as the focus shifted to Kong.  He also recognized the Twin Towers in NYC.

I give it 4 out of 5.

A Town Called Panic

Sunday night we watched A Town Called Panic (2009,NR).  From Netflix:

Tag along for the small-town adventures of plastic toys Cowboy (voiced by Stéphane Aubier), Indian (Bruce Ellison) and Horse (Vincent Patar) when they buy 50 million bricks, setting into motion a crazy chain of events at their rambling rural home…in this film based on the Belgian television series of the same name.

It's suitable for the whole family (except for a little profanity).  Here is the trailer:

Clips from the TV show are on Hulu.

Lisa and I both independently thought that this is a movie James Lashlee would like.

I give the film 4 out of 5.

Monica and David

Monica_and_DavidTonight I finished watching the documentary Monica and David:

MONICA & DAVID explores the marriage of two adults with Down syndrome and the family who strives to support their needs.  Monica and David are blissfully in love and want what other adults have—an independent life.  Full of humor, romance and everyday family drama, the film uses intimate fly-on-the wall footage to reveal the complexity of their story.  While Monica and David are capable beyond expectations, their parents, aware of mainstream rejection of adults with intellectual disabilities, have trouble letting go.

It's an interesting and touching film.  I give it 4 out of 5.

Religulous

220px-Religulous_posterTonight I finished watching Religulous (2008,R).  From ScreenIt!:

Comedian Bill Maher explores and questions various religions around the world by interviewing those of faith about their beliefs.

My main take-away from this film is that it is easy to find people who can't thoughtfully answer skeptical questions about their faith.  I think that for most of us much of what we believe about God…or politics or whatever…has mostly been received and accepted…rather than examined from a skeptical perspective and adopted because it was the rational conclusion from the available evidence.  This becomes clear as we are challenged to justify our religious or political views.  I suspect that often there is also an inverse relationship between how strongly a belief is held and how deeply we have examined it.  In this film Maher doesn't engage deep thinkers in a serious discussion, but instead makes the hapless rubes look foolish…I guess that's his thing.

In one section that caught my interest, Maher asserts a long list of striking parallels between the story of Jesus and earlier Egyptian myths.  According to Wikipedia, there isn't much substance to this either.

I thought it was interesting to examine how I felt as Maher addressed religions other than my own.  I think we'll tend to agree with Maher's critique of everyone else but ourselves.  This takes me to a realization that everyone else is in that same position, and that to be consistent I should only be comfortable with my religion having a role in government, for example, that I would be comfortable with for someone else's religion.

The monologue that ends the film also caught my attention:

The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having in key decisions made by religious people. By irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it. Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says, "I'm willing, Lord! I'll do whatever you want me to do!" Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don't. How can I be so sure? Because I don't know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that's what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence, and sheer ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife, for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the billions of their fellow travelers. If the world does come to an end here, or wherever, or if it limps into the future, decimated by the effects of religion-inspired nuclear terrorism, let's remember what the real problem was that we learned how to precipitate mass death before we got past the neurological disorder of wishing for it. That's it. Grow up or die.

That's not nearly the whole story of reality, but there's enough truth in there to make a very strong case for self-examination and for asking ourselves the tough questions regardless of whether Maher asks them.

Not because I think it reveals much interesting substance, but because I think it provokes questions that are normally too little examined…I give it 4 out of 5.

Land of the Lost

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I recently watched Land of the Lost (2009, PG-13).  From ScreenIt!:

A scientist, his new assistant, and a tourist trap operator end up in another dimension where the past, present and future coexist, and then try to find their way back home, all while dealing with dinosaurs, reptilian creatures and more.

Some films are just silly.  Land of the Lost is one of those that is enjoyably silly…and what's not to like about Will Ferrell, Danny McBride and Anna Friel?

I give it 3 out of 5.

Reporter

Tonight I finished watching the documentary Reporter (2009).  From it's web site:

REPORTER is a feature documentary about Nicholas Kristof, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the New York Times, who almost single-handedly put the crisis in Darfur on the world map. The film puts the viewer in Kristof’s pocket, revealing the man and his methods, and just how and why real reporting is vital to our democracy, our world-awareness, and our capacity to be a force for good. But REPORTER has a second agenda. By tracking a newsman, we track his news.

I give it 4 out of 5.

The Soloist

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Tonight I finished watching The Soloist (2009,PG-13).  From ScreenIt!:

A newspaper reporter befriends and tries to help a homeless man whose life and innate musical talent are undermined by his schizophrenia.

I enjoyed it and Foxx and Downey's performances.  It's been criticized for being unfocused and uneven, but the story of someone suffering from schizophrenia would be.

I give it 4 out of 5.

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