Up! (2009)


How many times have you cried in a kids animated flick?   For me, the answer was probably “zero,” but after Up, I have to admit it — I cried.  Just a little teary eyed in the opening minutes (after the cloud making baby animal scene when the real movie started– btw, what was that all about?  It never got tied back in!)  But later in the movie, I definitely cried.   It’s a moving moment to realize you have lived out many adventures and had many dreams come true during your life, even though you had a “BIG DREAM” that you may not have ever attained.  Life is filled with little things more than big things, and the little things are what is so important, especially when they are shared with the ones you love.

Great movie, and a great chance to talk to your little ones about many life lessons.  Pixar has done it again!

Seven Pounds. 2008.


I have conflicting emotions about this, but I would definitely put it in my “must see” category.  I don’t want to say more here in case you haven’t seen it.

The last movie I teared up so much to was Finding Neverland.

This is not a quote, but this is the verse that comes to mind:

Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends, John 15:13.
Here is a quote:

Live life Abundantly!

Sweeney Todd


This has to be one of the most gruesome, gory movies I have seen in a long long time.  I don’t really watch horror movies, and I guess you could say No Country for Old Men and The Departed were pretty bloody, but not so much gruesome.

However, I am a big fan of Tim Burton and Johnny Depp, and they both deliver.  Depp deserved his Oscar nomination for this role (who knew he could sing?), and the film did win an Oscar for Art Direction.   So if you can get over the story line and the gore, I think it is worth it.  And I was pleasently surprised at the music (it is a musical).  In fact, I may buy the sound track.  I love musicals and tend to listen to them over and over and over…

Memento. 2000.


Netflix: Please add a comment field to when I add a movie to my queue that lets me input “why” or “how” or “from where.”  Something!  So many times a movie arrives in the mail, and I have no idea why…  This is one where I am not sure how or why it arrived in my queue, but I am glad I did.

While the language gets rough, and there is lots of violence, this is well worth the watch!  I won’t say more than that here.

I’m not There.


Sometimes I thought this film was brilliant.

Sometimes I thought this film tried too hard.   (Too avant-garde???)

Sometimes I was bewildered.  (Maybe I just don’t know enough Dylan history…)

Cate Blanchett as a young Bob Dylan was simply amazing.  Watch the youtube clip below to see what I mean.

Overall, I would say more brilliant than bewildering…  Worth a see if you like any of Dylan’s music…

Australia. 2008.


[ I have not been blogging about every movie I see, and that will continue to be the case.  There are many movies I see where there is nothing I want to say (here). ]

Australia was better than I expected, and there are two relevant points I want to discuss:

1) “Stories”  —  This is one of those concepts that I hadn’t really thought much about, but then it started coming at me from many different angles.  There must be a reason when something like this happens!  The concept of “story” first came at me while reading Leading With a Limp.  There Allender makes the case that as leader of an organization, you must have stories to tell.  Stories that give you identity, branding…  Stories that tell where you have come from, who you are, and where you are going.  That is how you rally both insiders and outsiders around the purpose and cause of your organization.   The topic was only lightly touched on in the movie, but it surrounded the “stories” of the people involved, especially the aboriginals.

2) Of course any story about aborginal people of Australia would not be complete without a Walkabout, where a young boy becomes a man.  And this is another of those concepts that keeps coming at me from different angles.  This old Art of Manliness post says it much better than I can, so do take the time to read that in-depth post.  Here I will just say that our American culture is really lacking in this area.  There is no rite-of-passage for boys to become men in America, other than some sub cultures such as the Jewish Bar Mitzvah.  Some might argue that going to college is a rite of passage, but I think it is important to do it at a younger age for various reasons, perhaps the most important being that sending off a boy to college can be a dangerous thing to do — hopefully he will already be a man capable of handling the academic and social pressures that entails.  Somehow I want to work some kind of rite of passage into my son’s life.  I just don’t know how yet.  Luckily I have a few years since he is only three!

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. F. Scott Fitgerald.

I happened to catch  the trailer for the movie, and definitely want to see it at some point…  But before then, I decided to read it via Daily Lit.  It is quite short at just 11 installments of about 5 minutes each.  Fascinating story of a man born old that grows young.  This may be a case where the movie turns out better than the story, but only because the story is a short story and there seems to be room for so much more.  As evidenced by the trailer…

Slumdog Millionaire. 2008.


I heard about this movie from a couple people — that it was great — but I really knew very little about it.  Just the high level story of a boy who wins “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and then the look back into his life about why and how.  But I had no idea beyond that, and I won’t divulge more here.  Let me just say that it was a very good movie, and if you have not heard of it, don’t let that hold you back from going to see it!

I actually didn’t decide to see it until about 9 p.m. while finishing dinner in Old Town VA, and then I had quite a hike plus tram ride to get to the theater for the 9:50 showing.  It finished up around midnight, and I then had a 40 min hike across Alexandria and Old Town to my hotel.  I could have jumped into a hotel and gotten a cab, but that is a pretty safe area, and I love to walk.

The Tale of Despereaux. 2008.


Somewhat on the spur of the moment, due to a one day postponement in a trip to TN, we decided to take the kids to the movies and the only kids movie that was playing was the Tale of Despereaux.   I had not heard of it, but after watching the trailer , we decided to give it a shot.  What a pleasant surprise!  I had recently decided that almost every major studio other than Pixar, and even Pixar to some extent, tries to engage adults with humor and innuendo that is not appropriate for all ages, even in G-rated movies.  Despereaux does not do that at all, and what is even more interesting is that there is no hint of pop culture anywhere in the film.

Interestingly the article linked here came across one of my blog subscriptions after we got home, and it is worth a read.  If you are short on time, here is one important quote:

It’s not rooted in any time. It’s not rooted in pop culture or in the moment, and I think that’s what makes it lasting. I think there are people reading this now as a 9- or a 10-year-old who are going to read it to their kids, just as I my give things that I read as a child, just like my wife gives Charlotte’s Web to our child.

There are things about a fairy tale that are just so epic, and so human, that they really sort of transcend that. There’s nothing wrong with those pop culture movies—I mean, I go to them—but this was a chance to make something that’s hopefully very rich and classic, with a lot of wonderful themes that are going to last. That’s what Kate did, and that’s what we tried to do.

There was one line in the movie along the lines of “as long as you have hope, you are free…”  I have been trying to reconcile that with “freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” but have not been able to do so yet.  :-/  It seems that the definition of freedom is a recurring theme on this blog… Check out this search link.

Recently watched movies…

Flying to Australia and back gives me a chance to watch a lot of movies.  On a 13-15 hour flight, I can fit in 2 full movies and still find time to read and sleep and eat.  What else is there to do?  The flying time plus the movies running in the room constantly (Dad turns them on all the time), and I saw a bunch of movies.  I won’t write much about most of them, and going forward, I won’t be posting about every movie I see, just those that strike my in some way, shape, or form.


hancock   leatherheads   ghost
catsanddogs   momma   coolhand


Brief summaries:

Hancock –  – not Will Smith’s best

Leatherheads – pretty good, I’ve always been impressed with Renee Zellweger… (Well, other than the 4 month marriage to Kenny Chesney!  But she was awesome in Cold Mountain.)

Cats and Dogs –  made me laugh.  a lot.  silly, but hilarious.

Momma Mia – much better than I thought.  Very good.

Capote –  I was so tired that I did not make it through, but I  will watch the rest of it, maybe tonight.   Philip  Seymour Hoffman was amazing in what I did stay awake for.

Cool Hand Luke – Ok, but by no means was I blown away with it.  Maybe my expectations were too high based on how much I have heard about it.

Ghosttown – odd in that it was very funny for about the 1st half of it, and then it got much more serious.  I  laughed hard during the funny part, and the serious part  was good too, in a different way.

I saw parts of other movies, but that is good enough for now…


UPDATE:  Wow, just finished Capote…  No wonder Hoffman won the Oscar for Best Actor.  Amazingly good movie, though not a “happy ending.”  Makes me want to read Capote’s books now.