Monday, August 22, 2011

Different Era--Same Abuse of Power

The Conspirator (Loved It)--This movie depicts the trial of Mary Surratt. She was one of the alleged conspirators in the assassination of President Lincoln. Now I am making no judgments on whether she was guilty or not guilty, but regardless of what she knew or didn't know, the way her trial was handled was wrong.

This movie is directed by Robert Redford, so I will admit it has a more liberal spin to it, but it fits my feelings to a tee. And, I can say, I've recommended this movie to more politically conservative friends, and they loved the movie as well. So, I think everyone should watch this movie. It makes you think. That is not a bad thing.

The movie is from a new company call the American Film Company. They want to make movies that are historically accurate and depict true events. This film met that goal. It shows what can happen when hysteria and fear envelop a nation. I feel that Mary Surratt was a victim of this type of environment and shows what can happen when there is an abuse of power.

I feel we are in an era where there is also a lot of fear and worry. I think our country is great and that our government is a little broken now, but it is still based on the correct principles. But, there are times when it makes mistakes. This film shows one of those times.

The performances are great, especially Robin Wright as Mary Surratt and Kevin Kline as Edwin Stanton (the Secretary of War). The other performances by James McAvoy and Evan Rachel Wood are also great. This film is just very well made and should be seen. It didn't get a lot of attention when it was in the box office, so I trying to get the word out, SEE THIS MOVIE! It's worth the rental.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

So you know I'm not a Republican. . .

Fair Game (Liked It)--So I was not a big fan of George W. Bush's administration. Actually I'm not really a fan of politicians in general. But I like political movies. For instance-All the President's Men, the Insider and this movie.

It tells the story of Valerie Plame, who was the CIA operative that was outed by the Bush administration when her husband wrote a story contradicting the "evidence" that there were WMD's in Iraq (which I may need to remind people that there WEREN'T any).

Naomi Watts and Sean Penn do a very good job of portraying Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson (her husband). Now I don't know how accurate the movie was but the commentary by the actual couple seems to think it's accurate enough.

It does a good job of showing what abuse of political power can do to people. Now I feel that Washington D.C. is broken and that both of the major political parties have ISSUES, but to do what Scooter Libby (and not to be petty, but no adult should be called Scooter), did to this family and this women's career is WRONG and for W. to have pardoned him, is even worse.

The story keeps your attention, the plot moves along, and the performances are good. There is some really unnecessary bad language at the beginning of the movie, that makes it PG-13, but the rest is clean, clean, clean. So I would highly recommend this movie to anyone.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

I love Matt Damon!

The Adjustment Bureau (Loved it Enough to Buy It)--I LOVE Matt Damon. Other than Robert Redford, I own more movies with Matt Damon in them than any other actor, and I like them all. So, it should not come as a surprise that I loved the Adjustment Bureau.

I liked the movie because it explored themes of destiny, free will, God (although code named the Chairman), and love. This movie was not afraid to explore those themes. Not many movies that make it in the mainstream do that much anymore. There is so much trash out there now and it's easy to find mindless entertainment, but I still like/love a movie that makes you think. This movie did that for me. I thought it was fun to see how little coincidences or chances and how you react to them, can affect your life. You just never know what's going to lead you down a different path.

I thought the chemistry between the Matt Damon and Emily Blunt was great. They seemed to really like each other which always helps when you're trying to believe these two are lovers torn apart by fate. Emily Blunt is another one of my favorite actresses. Ever since The Devil Wears Prada, I have been a fan of hers, and she works in this movie for me.

I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but this movie will make you think, keeps the suspense up until the end, and has pretty people to look at, so what's not to love.

If you're looking for a good rental, rent this. It's worth the 90 minutes and the $1.07 it will cost you to Redbox it.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Go to see "The Help"!!!

The Help (Love It Enough To Buy It)--So, I bought the book "The Help" last year when my friend Heidi came to visit. She recommended the book and so I bought a copy. It took me a little while to get to reading it and I admit that it took about five chapters in before I was hooked. But then, I loved it. I know there has been some "controversy" because a white woman was writing a black woman's perspective, but to be honest, anything that revisits the turmoil and strife of the civil rights need in the country is alright with me.

So now to the movie. The movie is a very good adaptation of the book. For me books are almost always better, but I think this movie did a wonderful job of conveying the most important parts of the story and helps to develop the relationships beautifully.

Viola Davis as Abileen and Octavia Spencer as Minny are mind blowingly good. I LOVED their performances, and felt they perfectly captured the women in that book. Break out the Oscars, because they deserve nominations. The younger ladies did well too. Emma Stone does a good job with Skeeter and Bryce Dallas Howard is pitch perfect as Hilly. I can't stand her (the character) and that is a good thing. Bryce absolutely conveys the bigotry and ignorance that was pervasive and strong in that era.

The supporting cast is also good. There is not a weak performance in the movie and I really liked Allison Janney as Skeeter's mother (she's always one of my favorites).

I also thought the film did a great job of conveying the fear that the two lead maids felt and the fear and degredation that the other maids in the movie felt as well. The worry that your whole life could change or end because you step out of line, was hard to watch, but needs to be seen. There's a line in the book that white men will fight it out, but that white women will pick away like a dental tool until they get what they want. This is shown in the movie and it's scary that people will abuse and use their power that way.

I love the scene where the other maids finally decide to tell their stories. They are scard to death, but they are brave enough to show what really goes on and to get this information out. I also like that not all white people in the movie are awful, some of the maids have good stories about the families they work for. They show the good and the bad.

Go see this movie.

It's told from the perspective of women, but I think it's not a "chick flick". Men and women, young and old should see this movie, and how the history behind it is still shaping our world today.

I recently had a book club that was talking about Germany and the rules that outlawed Jews from basic citizenship. Someone in the discussion asked if this could ever happen in America. I told him to go see this movie, The Help, because it shows that we've already been there. We need to remember the past so we don't repeat it.


Saturday, July 30, 2011

This has nothing to do with what I've been watching.

OK, so for the last little while (since May 19th) to be exact I have been more narcissistic than normal. On that day, I discovered I have a benign football sized tumor in my abdomen. It's coming out on August 2nd (YEA!!!) Recently I had my pre-op visit with my OB/GYN surgeon. My friend Shauna went with me and this is what she posted on her blog. I wanted to post it here, so anyone who reads this can see it and so I have a record on my own blog of the much needed hysterical and slightly sad event.


Thursday, July 28, 2011
Sick Minds Think Alike
I joined Dear Friend Chris yesterday for her pre-op visit to her gynecological surgeon. She is having a benign fibroid tumor, the size of a football, that is attached to the outside of her uterus removed next week, along with the uterus. The tumor was discovered earlier in the spring, and the surgery is her best option. I've been with her at the other appointment with this surgeon to verify that this is really the problem, so I had met the doctor with her back in May. I go to give her moral support and to have an extra set of ears listening to the doctor's instructions.

Dr. Rees is simply terrific. He is kind and funny, and seems to really know his stuff. And, really, any man who chooses to become an OB has some kind of special talent for dealing with women, their hormones, and the crazy stuff that happens in their bodies. He works with a series of other OB/GYNs in a very popular Provo practice.

It's the Provo angle that makes this story worth sharing.

You know Provo--the home of BYU, affectionately known as "Breed 'em Young" University. Where a high percentage of undergraduate students are married, and many of those are starting their families while they are still students themselves. This is a leading factor in the popularity of this doctor's office--as well as any and all OB/GYNs in Provo.

There are a LOT of babies born in Provo. And many of their mothers were coming in for their regular pregnancy check ups yesterday, apparently. But as this town is family-central, most of those women coming in for their check ups were with their husbands too.

Chris' doctor had been called in to help with an emergency C-section, so we had to wait a little longer than normal to get in to see him. We watched a dozen or more BYU-like couples head back for the weights and measures kind of appointment. As fast as the waiting room emptied, it refilled with new little BYU-esque parents-to-be.

When the nurse finally called Chris back, we both stood up to head back to the exam room to talk with the surgeon. There we were, two women. Together. Walking back to an exam room at an OB/GYN's office. Together.

EVERY set of eyes in the building were looking right at the two of us. I could feel their laser-like gaze recognizing the discrepancy between us and the other couples who had been walked back behind the desk. There was NO doubt in my mind that everyone there was thinking the same thing: "LESBIANS, right here in Provo. Can't be?! Which do you think is the pregnant one?!"

The glares felt heavy as we passed the registration desk and walked down a little hallway. Once through the door, Chris and I looked at each other and, sure enough, we were both feeling those same stares. We were thinking they were thinking the SAME thing! "They think we are lesbians having a baby."

Once we got into the little room where the doctor would speak with us, we were cracking up thinking of all the self-righteous and judgemental thoughts everyone in the waiting room must be having about us at that moment. Just goes to show you can't judge people by what you see. And really, isn't that was we've been taught all our lives? Quick judgements are often wrong.

We facitiously joked about the little Molly-Mormons fearful that some"gay" might rub off on the unborn, or that their safe harbor from the world (Provo) was no longer the pure home they wanted to live in to raise this baby. All the homophobic things I had heard from uptight and judgemental folks around here sounded in my mind.

Then as Chris was having her blood pressure taken in the hallway outside the exam room, I heard the song that was playing on the radio at that moment. Irony, pure and simple: it was AC/DC's "Shook Me All Night Long".

Provo may not be my favorite town, but tell me, what is NOT to like about this office?
Posted by Shauna at 10:31 AM

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two in one month--Wow!!

Secretariat (Liked It)--I really enjoy underdog sports movies. I've watch many of them. Miracle, The Rookie, Seabiscuit, Cinderella Man, and now Secretariat. I love these type of stories, because if they weren't true they would be just cheesy. But they are true (as true as a movie can be), and I love them.

This movie is no different. It's tried and true material. Underdog overcomes great obstacles to triumph in the end, but the people in this story are endearing and the relationship that Secretariat has with his owner is fun to watch.

Secretariat was an amazing horse, the last one to win the Triple Crown, and it's worth the 2 hours you'll spend watching this movie.

I don't know much about horses. I've only been on a horse twice in my life and that was just walking around a barn yard, but I know they are beautiful animals and that someone can develop great love for a horse. Secretariat is that kind of story. A housewife decides to risk it all for a horse she loves and the horse delivers.

The movie keeps your interest even though you already know how it ends. Diane Lane does a good job as does John Malkovich (in an unusual role for him). I liked it, would watch it again, and am recommending it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Yeah, I clearly need to watch more stuff. . . but I've been reading!

American Experience: Triangle Fire (Loved It)--OK, I LOVE history. I almost majored in history, but I wanted something more practical, so I majored in Microbiology & minored in Chemistry. But, history became a hobby. I love to read about it, watch documentaries, historical films, just about anything to learn about the past. This documentary from PBS's series American Experience is one of my favorites.

If you don't know about the Triangle Fire, it occurred on March 25, 1911 in Manhattan off of Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. I've been there, I've seen this building where a fire claimed 146 lives. I don't know how I first became familiar with the fire, but the story has been an interest of mine for years. With the centennial of this tragic event, there has been more interest and so more coverage. This fire helped to change America. It lead to child labor laws, workman's comp, workplace safety, and other advances that we now take for granted.

This documentary spells it out in 53 short minutes, but they pack a punch. I am also reading a book on this event, David von Drehle's, "Triangle: The Fire That Changed America". The author was one of the consultants on the documentary. It's a sad and tragic story, but one that should not be forgotten. It was the worst workplace disaster in New York history until 9/11 and was the 4th worst event of this type in the history of the nation at the time. Young Jewish and Italian immigrants (123 of them women), some as young as 14 had to burn before people would take notice and help with workplace safety and justice for the working class people. It occurred during the Gilded Age which is one of my favorite time periods, the huge immigration from Europe, the staggering poverty eclipsed by unbelievable wealth and the old not having caught up with the technology. Issues that in some ways we are dealing with in today's world. And if we don't remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. This story is largely forgotten and it needs to be remembered.

Watch this story. It's hard to watch but so worth it. There are parts of the story that show amazing bravery and heartbreaking loss, but I highly recommend it. It can be streamed on Netflix and it can be DVR'd if you look for it.