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At the Movies

August 6, 2007


Matt Damon in the Bourn Ultimatum

Matt Damon in the Bourn Ultimatum

Following an intense month of camp ministry, we decided to take a week off, rest, and not do too much of anything that didn’t feel restful or recreative.

So of course that meant taking some time to catch up on some summer movies. We caught several matinees this last week. Most of them were blockbusters, so nothing real deep to extract other than a bit of decent entertainment.

Transformers – visually pretty stunning. I’m not one to care too much about special effects driven movies, but the boys and I had a “boys day out” where we ate at McDonald’s and then caught a movie. the Special effects were incredible, story was decent, but did anyone else feel like the voices of the characters (particularly Optimus Prime) sounded too cartoonish? I know that was probably the point, and in some ways it’s a cool idea to tie it back to it’s source material, but for me it constantly reminded me I was watching a movie based on a cartoon. Up until then, I thought framing the story around a boy who buys his first car rooted it pretty successfully in the real world. All in all, I enjoyed it for what it was, but didn’t leave caring about it. I was also disappointed to not hear the mutemath song at the end (their version of the cartoon theme song)

Harry Potter and The Order of The Phoenix – I think one of the best movies in the series! I loved the emphasis on character development and was actually moved a number of times, especially by the idea that in their war against the evil Lord Voldemort, their advantage lies in the fact that they have something worth fighting for: love, friendship, family. 

The Bourne Supremecy – This was the first time where Matt Damon really struck me as truly menacing. Underneath his boyish demeanor was a believable angst and threat. Great movie, loved it, It’s maybe the best in the series. Matt Damon’s internaional hit man is believable, and I was especially grateful to be able to sympathize with a moral character who is engaged in an internal moral conflict. Sex and violence are not glamorized here as they are in the typical “secret agent man” film genre. There is even an opportunity for an amorous tryst with a woman who obviously cares about Bourne, but he is still grieving the death of the woman he loved and is apparently unwilling to engage in a sexual encounter and it’s necessary complications. There is an informed morality at work here that helps the audience feel that sex is more than just physical, there are emotional and even spiritual consequences, implied commitments that our hero knows he can’t follow through on, and so he restrains himself. We have a real character in a real world with real consequences – not the least of which is the reality of losing your heart (even your identity) when you become too calloused.

Oh yeah, and the fight scenes are pretty amazing, too.

Watching this movie made me think again of a movie called “The Matador” – a dark comedy with Pierce Brosnan whose washed up hit man has lost his nerve and in his loneliness finds an unlikely friend in Greg Kinnear’s nerdy businessman in a hotel lounge in Mexico. Though I don’t feel at liberty to recommend “The Matador” due to some of it’s content, I was always grateful for its anti-James Bond depiction of what the life of the secret hit man must be like. Here Brosnan plays the antithesis of the Bond character he helped create, playing against the archetypical suave secret agent man and instead playing a pathetic, detached, and thoroughly unsympathetic loser. Instead of the glamorized depictions of Bond’s numerous sexcapades, “The Matador” depicts the emptiness of loveless sexual encounters. He longs for the meaningful love that Greg Kinnear shares with his wife.

Though it’s rated R (and for good reason) I always thought it a commendable film in its depiction of a man consumed by his own narcissism, emptiness, and with little capacity to give or receive love.

Enough about all that, though…

We also saw Ratatouille. The partnership between Brad Bird (director of the Incredibles and The Iron Giant) and Pixar might be a match made in cinematic heaven. We loved it, and walked out of the theatre craving some good food! One of the better moments in the film to me was when the food critic took a bite of the dish that was prepared for him, and then we catch a glimpse in his stunned face of an idyllic, happy childhood memory. Life is awakened in this crusty, curmudgeonly critic and in essence he becomes childlike again. I’m reminded of what the best art can do – be it music, a painting, a fine meal, or anything we create with great love – it can help us recover childlike innocence and wonder. 

Ratatouille reminded me of another great animated film set in France called “the Triplets of Belleville”. it’s a magical movie with no dialogue, the story told visually and with a rousing soundtrack. We talked about this movie for days after we watched it. When we sat down to watch it the first time, we told the boys about art films, films made not just for the broadest sense of entertainment, but to excite the imagination and lead us to places in our hearts and mind that we may not be accustomed to going, or that we may never have found on our own. This was just such a movie. I highly recommend it. But remember, it’s not Disney…

After a week of (perhaps excessive) movie watching, it’s time to get back to work. I’m just starting to pray about what the next record should be about and hope to start writing in the days to come. We’re also planning on doing a limited release of an all acoustic live recording that we’ll do in September, and then I head out on the road again with Downhere for their Fall tour. I hope to see you out there!



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