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Tonight we watched Taken (2009,PG-13).  From ScreenIt!:

A former CIA agent uses every tool in his arsenal and leaves many bad guys in his wake as he tries to find and rescue his 17-year-old daughter who's been kidnapped into the sex slave trade while vacationing in Paris.

It’s chock full of violence and a bit too far-fetched over and over again.  Also, Lisa says the boys are never going to Europe alone.

I give it 3 out of 5.

Revolutionary Road


Last night we watched Revolutionary Road (2008,R).  From ScreenIt!:

A 1950s era couple must contend with their unhappy marriage as well as unexpected developments that threaten to derail the wife's plan to save their relationship and make them happy.

I couldn’t help thinking of Mad Men with DiCaprio’s character feeling like a slightly-more-hip Pete Campbell.  Also, somehow the dysfunctional families and mood of this film somehow reminded of those in Ang Lee’s The Ice Storm.

I give it 4 out of 5.

The Blind Side

225px-Blind_side_poster After opening presents Christmas morning, we went to see The Blind Side (2009,PG-13).  From ScreenIt!:

A confident woman and her Southern family take in a poor and undereducated teen, give him the home life he never had, and help him hone his football skills that make him a top college prospect.

The scenes in the projects of Memphis reminded me of the times Lisa and I visited similar places in Knoxville to bring kids to church.  Although I think some of the film’s critics make valid points, (as I mentioned before) I’m a sucker for inspiring sports movies and themes of racial reconciliation.

I give it 5 out of 5.

Raiders of the Lost Ark


A few weeks back we watched Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981,PG) for family movie night.  I’m sure I’d seen it before, but it was interesting because it felt more like it was familiar more from clips I’d seen, video games as a kid, and the show at Universal Studios theme park.  The kids enjoyed it.  I was kind of surprised that it didn’t seem to spook Finn.  Hopefully it was the first time they’ve seen exploding bodies. :-) 

I give it 4 out of 5.

The Upside of Anger


I recently watched The Upside of Anger (2005,R).  From ScreenIt!:

A woman tries to deal with her anger regarding her husband who's disappeared and left her alone to raise their daughters whose actions and decisions challenge her in various ways.

It was fine but nothing special.  I suspect the fairer sex would relate more to the relationships between the sisters and with their mom.

I give it 3 out of 5.

The Village

200px-The_Village_movie I recently watched The Village (2004,PG-13).  From ScreenIt!:

Old-fashioned members of an isolated and simple village must contend with what appear to be incursions of monsters from an adjacent forest.

I know this one wasn’t critically-acclaimed, but I generally enjoy Shyamalan’s films including this one.

I give it 4 out of 5.


200px-HumanFactorInvictus Last night I went with friends from work to see Invictus (PG-13,2009).  From ScreenIt!:

The newly elected President of South Africa hopes to begin reconciliation among his black and white constituents by urging them to unite behind the nation's rugby team in the World Cup.

Over coffee afterwards, one of my friends talked about what it was like experiencing these events first-hand as an Afrikaner in South Africa.  She said the film brought back so many memories.  First of all, she was impressed with Freeman’s and Damon’s accents…saying they were spot-on.  Also, she indicated that the filmmakers did an excellent job of capturing the spirit of what the South Africans felt and experienced during that time.  Her family had gathered to celebrate her 21st birthday and watched the match together on a big screen.  Although they didn’t realize it at the time, she said that when Mandela walked onto the field wearing the #6 jersey of the Springboks (South African national rugby team, a deep-rooted symbol of Apartheid) it was a major turning point for their country and its racial reconciliation.  The celebrations in the streets afterwards were the first time they had done so without fear of violence and riots.  She said her parents have made big changes in their outlook since then.  On the other hand, her brother has not (still doesn’t want to use the same facilities as blacks, send his kids to school with blacks, etc.).  She said that the black middle class is growing and that it’s not unusual to see blacks buying homes in previously-white-only neighborhoods.  Unfortunately, the shanty towns are still prevalent.  Despite the fact that the country’s old flag (another symbol of Apartheid) was not banned, you never see it flown at sporting events any more.  She said the rugby was very realistic too, and she wanted to jump up and cheer during the film.  She wondered if the rest of us (who didn’t share that same personal connection with the story) would find it boring.  We didn’t.

I’m a sucker for sports movies and a sucker for movies about racial reconciliation, so I didn’t stand a chance.

I give it 5 out of 5.

New Moon

200px-Newmoonposter I enjoyed reading Twilight enough that I continued on with reading and then recently going to see New Moon (2009,PG-13) with Lisa.  From ScreenIt!:

A teen must not only contend with her vampire boyfriend suddenly dumping her and moving away, but also the discovery that her best friend is a werewolf.

I pretty much felt the same about this one as the first one.  The book was enjoyable enough, and the film was tolerable as a companion to the book.

I give it 3 out of 5.

By the People: The Election of Barack Obama

synopsis02_252x190 Tonight I finished watching By the People: The Election of Barack Obama (2009).  From Wikipedia:

By the People: The Election of Barack Obama is a documentary film that came out in November 2009 on HBO. The film was produced by Edward Norton during the 2008 Presidential election of Barack Obama. It follows Obama and various members of his campaign team, including David Axelrod, through the two years leading up to November 4th, 2008.

I heard David Plotz pan this documentary on the Gabfest, accusing the filmmakers of squandering their behind-the-scenes access and not getting any amazing Obama moments.  I don’t really agree (there were several moments that I thought were great…prepping for a debate, chatting off-stage while he is introduced, etc.), especially since the film was as much about a variety of other campaign staffers as about Obama…and they were interesting to watch too.  As the film closed with those folks reacting to the election results, I was reminded how I felt that night too…and that was worth remembering.

I give it 4 out of 5.


250px-Twilightbook On our 15th anniversary cruise back in July, Twilight (2008,PG-13) was showing in the ship’s theater.  I’d been planning to read it anyway (if the ladies occasionally watch football with us, we can occasionally read about romantic vampires), so I knocked the book out over a few days before watching it with the Crumps.  From ScreenIt!:

After relocating to a small town to live with her dad, a teenager meets and ends up falling for a teenage vampire who's torn between his love for her and his appetite for her blood.

I didn’t love the book or anything, but it was enjoyable enough.  Having read the book also made the film more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

I give the film 3 out of 5.

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