Movies I’ve Watched Recently

Here’s a bunch of short movie reviews, notes for my memory at least. I tend to watch movies in bunches and don’t want the anxiety of trying to write full reviews like I do for books anymore.

  • Good By Lenin! (2003) – Set in East Berlin, this touching family comedy-drama tells the tale of Alex going to great lengths to care for his mother Christiane’s fragile health. She’s a true devotee to the socialist state who collapses and has a heart attack just prior to the fall of the Berlin Wall. When she awakes from her coma 8 months later Alex attempts to recreate the world of the GDR through increasingly elaborate stunts. Luckily the movie is not just a madcap comedy, but also delves into some introspective reflections on family. It’s also a time capsule of those heady days when the Wall fell and increasingly larger Coca-Cola trucks brought Western-style capitalism to the East (I can’t believe that was almost 20 years ago already!).
  • The Iron Giant (1999) – In Cold War-era Maine, as Sputnik orbits overhead, a giant metal man crashes on the shore and goes on a rampage feeding on metal. An adventurous, somewhat obnoxious boy named Hogarth discovers the Iron Giant and befriends him. With the help of a beatnik scrap-metal yard owner and his mother they try to protect the Iron Giant from the government agent and military set to destroy him. The movie is predictable but charming and fun nonetheless. It’s a good combination of 50’s-style scifi with 80’s-style family drama
  • The Clash: Westway to the World (2000) – For a revolutionary band, this is a surprisingly standard documentary. Basically archival concert films interspersed with talking head interviews by the band members and a few other folks affiliated with The Clash. I would have enjoyed more concert and less talking head interviews, but overall it is a nice peek into the life of The Only Band that Matters.
  • Becket (1964) – Richard Burton is Thomas Becket the man of the world who finds meaning in defending the faith and the church when appointed Archbishop of Canterbury. His friend, King Henry II played by Peter O’Toole — who steals every scene he’s in with his slimy charm — appoints Becket thinking it’s a way out of church/state battles. But he doesn’t realize that his friend who’s been cleaning up after him is more honorable than he thinks. I understand that this film plays loosely with the facts of Becket’s life but it’s a classic tragedy all the same.
  • Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink) (1997) – Most definitely not the biopic of Edith Piaf. This is a Belgian comedy-drama about a 7-year old boy who wants to be a girl. Hollywood would play this for cheap laughs and then have a big lesson-learning moment. This European take shows the boy and his family meeting with prejudice, vandalism, job loss, abuse, a suicide attempt, and mobs of dead-eye suburbanites. It’s kind of comically depressing akin to a Funky Winkerbean storyline.
  • Waydowntown (2000) – I was intrigued by the basic gist of this film in which a bunch of coworkers wager a month’s salary over who can stay inside the longest. This is made easier because their office building in Calgary, Alberta is connected to other buildings, including their apartments by shopping malls, food courts, and pedestrian walkways. Their adventures over one work day include a shoplifting CEO, a suicidal co-worker, cruel pranks, office romance, dead mice, and an ant farm. There’s also a moral lesson at the end but it’s kind of muddled. If you seek a move with a coherent storyline, this is not for you, but I enjoyed it due to its surreal black humor and ability to defy expectations. But I’m weird that way.

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