Sunday, February 24, 2008

Movies, movies, movies!

I gotta tell ya, there's nothing quite as painful as sitting at home, unemployed, in your jammies, as it approaches noon, watching your former classmate in a designer dress, elegant up-do, and a body that appears to be in even better shape than when she was a teenage cheerleader do the pre-Oscar show on the E channel. Ah, but I couldn't be happier for her...

Friday I saw the documentary The Rape of Europa (sounds like good times, right?). The book by the same name by Lynn Nicolas (1994) was quite influential for the type of work I do at the museum. Hitler had a plan to create a huge national museum with what he considered the finest art in the world and had gigantic stockpiles of looted art stored around Germany. If you're interested in that period and want to learn more, I'd highly suggest this movie.

Last night we saw Be Kind Rewind - the new Michael Gondry movie with Jack Black and Mos Def. Like Gondry's other films (The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Human Nature), this movie is fanciful and, in parts, absurd - but it's really fun and a celebration of how movies can unite people. That's one of the things I love about going to the movies - sitting in a crowd and experiencing group emotion - preferably laughter - is really the only reason to go to the movies anymore (when our home theatre options just keep getting better and better).

Something I thought was interesting was that this is one of the most racially integrated movies I've ever seen without being about racial integration. Mostly it's sad that such a thing is unusual, but I applaud Gondry for the casting choices - and it only makes sense for such a joyfully inclusive movie.

My favorite thing about Be Kind Rewind was the inventiveness and creativity in low, LOW budget film-making (by which I mean a couple of kids in their backyard with a vhs camcorder.) Gondry and his team use some cool techniques to harken back to those nostalgic days of yore when we watched movies on vhs tapes (and liked it!) Pay close attention to costumes and sets for some homespun details and nifty diy effects.

There's a line by Jack Black who says something like, "You guys, stop arguing! While you're yelling at each other, you're wasting time when you could be watching this movie!" Which sort of gets at the heart of the movie. I'm not saying watching movies together will solve the world's problems (and in this movie, making movies specifically does not solve their problems) but it does provide a way for us to create and maintain a human bond with strangers.

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