Wall-E. 2008.

walle I am amazed at the number of excellent films Pixar has been able produce, including Wall-E.  In my opinion, they have not had one mediocre film in all of their productions.  They also are much better at NOT including all the adult humor and innuendo that other studios continue to place in kid’s movies.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. 2008

expelled I know there is a lot of controversy around this movie, and I certainly understand that especially if any of the information on how some of the interviews were obtained is accurate.  In my mind there should have been no need to get interviews in anyway other than aboveboard methods.  

However, beyond that, I think this film should be watched, and no matter which side of the “wall” (more on that below) you are on, you should try to leave your biases at the door.

I know this film is slanted heavily in favor of one side of the story, but that is ok, it is a documentary with a purpose.  In fact, the “propaganda” affected me to some extent.  I thought the Berlin Wall metaphor and associated naziism and communism was way over the top in the beginning, but by the end, I felt like “The Wall” metaphor was more appropriate.

Again, don’t let your preconceived notions and biases prevent you from seeing a film just because you may fall on the opposite side of the debate than what the film is arguing for or against).

Road to Perdition. 2002.

roadtoperdition I happened to see the 1st couple minutes of this flipping channels and decided to record it and watch it later.  I literally did not know anything about it going in, but with the cast including Tom Hanks and Paul Newman, I figured it had to be pretty good.

In case you didn’t know, the definition of “perdition” is:

1. Christianity final and unalterable spiritual ruin; damnation
2. same as hell [Late Latin perditio ruin]

It was one of those movies that is not super cheerful!  But the acting is good and the story keeps you engaged.  Lots of twists and turns though most of them were fairly predictable.

One quote:

Natural law. Sons are put on this earth to trouble their fathers.

Let’s hope that is not the case with Reece-man!  🙂

Madagascar 2: Escape from Africa. 2008.

mada2 Saturday was cold and rainy and I could tell there wasn’t going to be much to do, so I looked at what was playing near by and saw Madagascar 2.  So I loaded up the kids and we headed over to the theater for an 11 a.m. showing.  My 1st comment is whatever happened to “matinees?”   It cost just under $20 for 2 kids and me  to get in!  I knew the popcorn and drinks would be high too.  :-/  Oh well.

Riley loved the movie, and Reece did pretty well himself, sitting still (mostly) for about 90 minutes.

I still don’t know why they have to put so much “adult” humor in kids movies these days, but overall it was good and there is nothing way out of line for 3 and 6 year olds.  And there are some good life lessons about friendship, loyalty, parenting, etc., that we were able to talk about a little afterward (at least with Riley).

Good Will Hunting. 1997.

goodwill Wow, what a fantastic movie!

I saw this once, a long time ago, and recall enjoying it at that time.  But not nearly as much as this time around.  It is funny how a certain movie, or song, or book, or place, can be so different at different points in your life…

A little background on this…. A few months ago I was in London, and I could not get a flight out the night I was ready to leave, so I ended up staying at an airport hotel at Gatwick.  That night after dinner, I was hanging out in the lobby with my laptop and a beer, and a couple of guys ended up sitting next to me.  One was a mechanic that worked on industrial scale washing machines, and he left after just a few minutes.  The other ended up being a Catholic priest in “street clothes” as he was on holiday (so I did not find out he was a priest until 30 minutes into our conversation).

We ended up talking for a couple of hours, about a lot of things, including a fair amount of theology, and the conversation still sticks with me.  In fact, I still want to gather my thoughts into a post on one thing in particular — how it may be possible to legislate from two different angles — reason and faith, and come up with a set of laws that is agreeable to both.  I have always NOT wanted a legislature that stems from any one particular faith (including my own!), but we discussed some things that make me question my own personal views on that.

Update: To expand on that… I still don’t want to legislate from a given faith given our country’s separation of church and state.  But I am less inclined to feel that there should be large differences in the set of laws that are created when one stems from morals developed through reason alone and another stems from morals developed through a given faith.  And yes I know how divergent different faiths can be, but the point is that it should become obvious when a given law does not conform to reasonably sound morals, no matter the source of those morals (reason or faith).

And the conversation we had that night a couple months ago still sticks with me…

Anyway, the reason all of that has to do with this movie is that we talked about our favorite movies, and this was his…  So I wanted to re-watch it just for that.

Just one quote (for now, at least):

So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo, you know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientations, the whole works, right? But I’ll bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling; seen that. If I ask you about women, you’d probably give me a syllabus about your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy. You’re a tough kid. And I’d ask you about war, you’d probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, “once more unto the breach dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I’d ask you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet. But you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you. You don’t know about real loss, ’cause it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you… I don’t see an intelligent, confident man… I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f’ing life apart..   [emphasis mine…  🙂  ]

Iron Man. 2008


I have been wanting to see this since for a long time.  I bought Marvel (MVL) stock way back when, when they moved from licensing films out to other studios to bringing it in-house.  And MVL is one of my VERY FEW stocks that is positive these days!  😦

Anyway, a pretty good action-flick.  I’m usually not much into super hero type movies, but I thought this was pretty good.  Doesn’t come near to displacing Die Hard (the 1st one) as my favorite action flick ever.

There were a few decent quotes, but only one that really stuck:

Tony Stark: You got a family?
Yinsen: Yes, and I will see them when I leave here. And you, Stark?
Tony Stark: [quietly] No.
Yinsen: So you’re a man who has everything, but nothing.

What else is there in this world?

The Ghosts of Christmas Eve. 1999.

I am a huge Trans-Siberian Orchestra fan.  They are 4th on my most played artist list according to ilike, which is pretty amazing since three of their four albums are Christmas albums, and I tend to not listen to them except in December!  (I do love their one non-Christmas album “Beethoven’s Last Night,” and I have been planning on a blog entry for it at some point.)

October is definitely early to watch a Christmas movie, but TSO is coming here in November, and I wanted to have Riley watch the movie to see if she would be interested in going to the concert.  Turns out she loved the movie part, but said she thought she might be bored at the concert if it was just music and not a movie!  😦

If you are a TSO fan, you will probably like this short movie (45 min.), and if you are not a TSO fan, you may like it.  I still can’t decide, after just one viewing, if it really captured TSO’s music and the emotion it can pull.  The story in the movie is much different from the three Christmas albums, and while the music was tied in pretty well, most of the music is from the stories of the albums and not the story of the movie.  I also can’t compare to a live show since I have yet to see them, but I still want to!

Failure to Launch. 2006.

Kelly and I were both recovering from a rough stomach bug and needed something light hearted and relatively short, and this was just the ticket.  If I had to summarize with just one word, that would be “predictable.”  But it still made me laugh here and there.

The Fountainhead. 1949.

After reading The Fountainhead (see post here), and then finding out there was a movie, I had to see it.  I was sckeptical that a movie, especially at just 2 hours, would be any good since the book was so epic and philosophical.  I just couldn’t figure out how the screen writer(s), director, and producer could pull it off.  I was happy to see right in the beginning that Rand did the screen play herself.

The movie started out moving incredibly fast.  The book takes time to develop the plot, the characters, and the philosophy.  The movie did not.  And there were also several items that were out of order, and one very notable item that was much better placed in the book, in my opinion.  (I don’t want to say what it is here, as it is a bit of a spoiler…)

Overall, the movie was just the tip of the iceberg of the book.  While fairly well thought out, it certainly does not match the book’s depth (nor do many movies that try to capture this kind of book).  While I can recommend the movie, I would say that you must read the book if you really want to dig into Rand’s ideas.

One thing that was a pleasant surprise was to see some of the buildings of Roark.  In the book, it was extremely hard to visualize, but the movie did a good job with them.  It was quite impressive considering the movie was done in 1949 how the skyscrapers seemed so real.  Of course, I’ve had the opposite experience of seeing things in a movie that I had visualized in a book.  For the Lord of the Ring movies, it was quite a different experience for me.  I had been picturing hobbits, orks, etc. for 20-25 years, and when I saw someone else’s representations that were so drastically different than my own, I was not pleased.  I got over it.  🙂

Some quotes that I may have missed in the book, or maybe they were just different in the movie.  These may be more paraphrases than exact quotes.  🙂

  • Defining freedom as “want nothing, expect nothing, depend on nothing.”   (Compare that to the discussion in this post.)
  • “The things that we want and admire enslave us.”
  • “See through your own eyes, think with your own brain.”
  • …spectacular talent, but made subservient to the masses
  • “Does man have a right to exist if he refuses to serve society.”
  • “The world is perishing from an orgy of self sacrifice.”

That last one is huge for Rand… She is not into altruism at all.  I am just about done with Atlas Shrugged, and that book is even stronger on this point.  So I likely will say more about this when I write on that book.

Finally, in the speech to the court near the end, Roark talks of the brain as man’s only weapon, and that the mind is an attribute of the individual.  He goes on to say that there is such thing as a collective mind.  I wonder how Rand would see today what is often called a hive mind, or universal mind, or even the collective mind.  I think I first read of it in Neal Stehpenson’s “The Diamond Age,” though I often think of it today as I am searching for answers online– data, information, knowledge, how-to’s, solutions to problems I am having that others have already had.  Today, we really do rely on each other’s minds moreso than at any other time in history.

Alvin and the Chipmunks. 2007.

I gave the kids a choice of 4 or 5 movies by watching previews on iTunes, and this is what they chose.  Riley seemed very interested in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,” but it was an hour longer than this at almost 2.5 hours, and I said no to that!  🙂

Overall I was pretty happy with this for the kids.   They really enjoyed it, and there were only a couple of things that I thought were a bit over the top… I don’t know why, but it seems like every “kid” movie has to have aspects of crude humor and allusions to intimacy these days!  But beyond that, there were some really good life lessons.  The chipmumks are let loose and totally indulged by “Uncle Ian,” who does not have their best interest in mind at all.  Instead, he is only interested in exploiting them for the money they can bring him.  Whereas “Dave,” who is more of a surrogate father, in no way wants to exploit them but instead wants to set rules and limits to protect them.  I actually think Riley got this when we talked about it, which is good to see.