Saturday, December 20, 2008


It's been a while since I've given any movie reviews or reports. Here are a few we've watched lately. * ratings are out of a possible ***** (five stars)

The Bridge **** - a documentary about people who kill themselves by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. There were 24 suicides in the year 2004... Who knew? Not an uplifting film, but an interesting look at what drives people toward taking their own lives.

Sweet Land *** - We just watched this one the other night. I was looking forward to it because Kristina said she really enjoyed it. This is a story about a mail order bride who comes to Minnesota during WW2 and how difficult it is for her to be accepted because she's German. The first few scenes were confusing and I thought that it could have been improved on to eliminate the confusion. The story itself was nice, though.

Darwin's Nightmare ** - a documentary about the massive export of a non-native fish species that is devastating the habitat of Lake Victoria, while the local Tanzanians suffer from a famine. We have friends who were missionaries in Tanzania, so the topic was very interesting to me. However, the filmmaker seemed to have his own agenda and he took his time making the point. The movie just dragged on with the same topics being covered over and over. So I ended up turning it off without finishing it.

The Devil's Playground **** - this was a fascinating and disturbing documentary about the teen years in Amish communities. Apparently, the doctrine of the Amish religion says that church membership and baptism cannot happen until you are an adult. In the teen years, you are allowed to experience "the world" and decide whether or not to get baptized and join the church. In some Amish communities, the teen years seem to be a huge distorted experience of "the world" that is just drunken parties, drugs, etc. The doco follows about 6 teens as they decide whether they are going to join the church or not. After watching the film, I did some searching on wikipedia and found that this is certainly not a universal experience in the Amish church. Some communities do not give their teens such free reign. But the movie seems to be an accurate portrayal of some Amish communities. It made me really sad to see that, at least these Amish groups do not have a true understanding of sin and grace...

Who Killed the Electric Car **** - another documentary... This one about an electric car that was produced by GM in the 70's in response to a mandate by the state of California that a certain percentage of cars on the road be electric by a certain deadline. As the deadline was approaching, three auto makers worked on producing the electric cars as they simultaneously fought the mandate. When they finally won and the mandate was removed, they removed every last electric car from the roads. Again, a disturbing look at the auto industry.

Letters from Iwo Jima **** - We'd been looking forward to this one for some time. It was very well-done. Interesting to see WW2 from the Japanese perspective.

The Railway Children **** - placed on our Netflix list because Ruth is so fond of the book. This was a nice story about a family having to give up their privileged life, but keeping faith in each other and God's care of them.

Wah-Wah *** - kind of a quirky story, a period peice set in Swaziland in Africa. An alcoholic father, divorce, remarriage, a child trying to figure it all out. It was interesting.

Stranger Than Fiction **** - This one was really well-done and interesting. Emma Thompson is writing a novel and Will Ferrell is her main character who figures out that he is at her mercy. Dustin Hoffman is the English professor who counsels Will in what to do about it. Some really funny lines and a clever plot.


Mark said...

Great reviews Tracy.

The only one I've seen though is 'Stranger Than Fiction', which had a great script, though a little disappointing in its ending.

I'd like to see 'Letters from Iwo Jima', having seen 'Flags of our Fathers'. I can't believe someone hasn't done this dual perspective before! Great concept.

'The Bridge' looks intriguing (and depressing too). I wonder how the film makers dealt with the moral quandary of whether or not to intervene if they knew someone was about to kill themselves.

Tracy said...

Mark - actually they did try to intervene when they suspected that someone was going to jump. They sat there filming every day of 2004, scoping the pedestrians for any signs of plans to jump. (this is all from the "making of" special feature) Interestingly, they said it turned out to be more difficult to identify jumpers than they thought. Many times they didn't suspect the jumper until it was too late. But the times that it was really evident, they always radioed to the "Bridge Patrol" who would come and try to talk them down.

Stranger than Fiction - honestly, I don't really remember how they ended the story. I don't remember it being unsatisfying... What I remember the most was the hilarious character that Dustin Hoffman created and how the story was built. Will Ferrell did a good job. I also remember the Emma Thompson character being quite appalling as a person.

kristina said...

Thanks for posting this. I have been in a movie slump. I am tired of stories I have seen a million times before and hollywood action. I will check out some of these.