I Like Musicals

There. I said it. I’m out of the closet. I like musicals. Particularly musicals adapted to film. The Sound of Music? Love it! Chicago? Moulin Rouge? Yes and yes. Jesus Christ Superstar? One of my top three all time films.

So, last night Kerri and I watched Rent, and I quite enjoyed it. Good songs. Good stories. And who wouldn’t want to see Detective Greene pirouette? I missed the firestorm when Rent first arrived, and it’s probably a good thing. I doubt that I would have given it a fair shot. Today, however, I’m glad to have seen it. It’ll be one I keep my eye out for should a touring company come through Dayton. If I’m forced to complain, I’ll say the vocals could have been a little stronger over the music is some places. There were times where I found it hard to understand the lyrics.

Rent’s central question remains: “How do you measure a year in the life?” Perspective is a theme I often find myself revisiting. (Warning: Brutal honesty and unfocused rambling ahead!) Late last night Kerri and I sat on the back porch listening to the drunken idiot with the megaphone lead his fellow morons through an orgy of mud wrestling and pyrotechnics. In the depression of the moment, my thoughts vaccilated between wanting them to blow off a few fingers and die of alcohol poisoning to lamenting the fact I had to live in a neighborhood where this, or something similar, occurred nearly every 4th of July. At some point, Kerri said, “It could be worse,” and as usual she’s right. I’ll take fireworks over car bombs any day… though I’d rather there be neither.

But then, what is the real problem? It is that there are destructive idiots in the world? Or is it that there are destructive idiots near me and my family? My how easy it is to recast everything in terms of the second question. Out of sight, out of mind, right? A big part of life is striving to maintain the right perspective, one that sees the larger world and not just the one that exists within the walls of my home, my job, my car. That’s the challenge I face. That’s the challenge we all face.

How do you measure a year in the life? How about love?

Seems like a good standard for measurement to me.

Movie: The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants

The second movie we rented over the holiday weekend was The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. (IMDB) It was a cute flick. Four life-long friends spend a summer apart and each take a step into adulthood. Everything ends happily ever after, but you knew that coming in. If you’re a macho, macho duck; then avoid it.

My one complaint: One of the girls is a great soccer player MVP of her high school side which won the national championship. She goes to a traveling soccer camp, but the soccer scenes are weak. Girls prance past one another, and no one gets stuck in. In one scene a girl is allowed to complete a rainbow inside the penalty area. Real life: her ankles would need a lot of ice after trying something that cheeky.

By the way, if you haven’t figured out my now… I’m not exactly a macho, macho, duck.

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Movie: Cinderella Man

Kerri and the boys are all sick with colds. Samantha is off galavanting with her cousins, who are visiting from Texas. I am trying to let Kerri rest and recover. So, on the way home last night I picked up a couple DVDs, the first of which was Cinderella Man.

Cinderella Man is directed by Ron Howard and stars Russell Crowe, Renee Zellweger, and Paul Giamotti. It is a biographical story of Depression Era boxer James J Braddock.

I really enjoyed the film. Anything that Ron Howard puts his name on is worth seeing. Even if you don’t like boxing (I cringed a few times), Cinderella Man is certainly worth seeing.

Movie: March of the Penguins

OK, last movie. This weekend we also rented March of the Penguins for the kids. Samantha got into it, but there wasn’t enough to hold Jake’s attention. Our friends took their kids to see it in the theatre. Jeff spent most of the movie chilling in the lobby with their three year old. Kerri and I enjoyed it. The cinematography is brilliant; Morgan Freeman’s narration compelling.

Interesting thought: The movie begins by recounting Antarctica tropical ancient past. Seems astounding in a land covered in ice. But not really. At one end of the spectrum you’ve got young earth creationists who would say, “Of course it was tropical. The layer of water that covered the earth pre-flood kept the whole world fairly cozy.” At the other end, you’ve got naturalists (i.e. those who deny the existence of any super-natural activity) who would say, “Of course it was tropical. The pre-historic mega-continent was situated near the equator. It was only later that it drifted to the south pole.” Hmm? How many other times would these two groups agree? Also, both groups arrive at the same conclusion. There’s probably something to be gleaned from this. Perhaps, at times, we make to much of our differences. Perhaps two ideas are occasionally situated on opposite sides of the same sphere; though they look very different, they are really just probing into the same center. Then again, perhaps not. Perhaps they really are on two different planets.

At any rate, the movie is good, though be prepared to discuss death and the harsh reality of the natural world if you watch it with your four year old. The scenes of frozen eggs and penguin chicks are heart-breaking.

Movie: Millions

Millions is a UK film released by Fox Searchlight. I’m not sure where I first heard about it. Perhaps Sister Rose’s excellent movie blog. (Here is her review of the film.)

Briefly: Dad and his two sons move to the suburbs of Manchester in order to begin a new life after mom’s death. One day, while playing in his cardboard box fort near the train tracks, a duffle of cash, British pounds, falls into the lap of the younger son. What to do with it? Oh yeah, they only have two weeks, because the Euro is coming, and once it does pound notes will be worthless.

Rather than devolving into the expected comedic romp, (There is comedy.) the film takes a wonderfully different approach. I won’t say more, but the film is set at Christmas time and would make for wonderful viewing this time of year.

One bit I enjoyed: At school, the children are asked to name a hero. After answers of “Roy Keane” and “van Nistelrooy” the teacher asks, “Does anyone have any heros who don’t play for [Manchester] United?” A boy in the back pipes in: “Robbie Fowler. He plays for City.” The class boos; I laughed. If you don’t get it, don’t worry.

Movie: New Jack City

Sunday night was a bit of a marathon. In addition to watching Millions, which was due back to Family Video, we also watched New Jack City, which was due back to the library. The movie is set in late 80′s New York City and chronicles the rise of a new drug gang, the Cash Money Brothers (CMB), and the NARCS who are trying to bring them down. Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allen Payne, and Chris Rock star. The soundtrack kicks with Queen Latifah and Ice-T providing the defining raps. Flavor Flav cameos as a night club MC, big clock and all.

As an action movie, it’s not very good. The gunfights are almost comical. It seems gangsters with automatic sub-machine guns are very inaccurate. As a social commentary, however, I thought it was worthwhile. The rise of the CMB is really the rise of crack cocaine. The movie presents a strong indictment of the War on Drugs. Turns out all was not rosy in the economic boom of the 80′s. Not all boats rose with the tide; some capsized.

The R rating well deserved: It’s loaded with bullets and a far dinkum or blood. There are a couple scenes with partial nudity. Using the Carlin standard only about half the dialogue could be repeated on television.

My verdict: It’s worth getting from the library or the dollar rack at the rental store, not so much as an action film, but as social commentary. The 80s fashion and hair styles are pretty rad, too.