1.20.08 ~ Good Night, and Good Luck.

January 20, 2008

Today’s Music: “Remember Me As A Time of Day”, Explosions in the Sky
(This song, for whatever reason, really makes me think of Brad.)

TODAY’S TOPIC: Review of Good Night, and Good Luck.

Got this from Netflix with Pan’s. I had wanted to see it when it was out in the theaters, but that was back while I was in wretched Downers Grove and it just didn’t work out. >_> The film is a “docudrama” about the battle between Edward R. Murrow and Senator McCarthy, back during the whole Communist scare. I will be the first to admit it was not at all what I expected.

That didn’t mean it wasn’t excellent.

First things first, the film was black’n’white. Considering the kick I’m on now, this was a huge turn-on.

At an hour and a half, the movie runs at average length, but I’ll tell you, it definitely felt too short. I could have done with another hour. Superbly acted, the entire piece just sorta sucked me in and wouldn’t let go. Engrossing is a good word. The sparse soundtrack had music in all the right places. The acting was tight. Jeff Daniels is Jeff Daniels. I love Robert Downey Jr. – I think I might pick up A Scanner Darkly and try watching that again. What am I saying, the entire cast did a damn fine job.

What I realized, as I was watching the movie, was that a.) it is fantastically relevant to current affairs, and b.) it’s a movie meant to speak to today’s viewers about the role of the news media more than it’s meant to inform its audience about the Red scare from so long ago. I need to start taking notes during some of these – there were lines Murrow delivered that were things I know we’ve all thought during the course of this Bush administration debacle and the election circus that’s going on. About how it’s the media’s responsibility to be fair and honest and to give voices to everyone. To rise up against the politicians, not be controlled by them. To become a strange version of a shining beacon of hope when the government is trying to use fear tactics and propaganda to control and subvert a nation. Sound familiar?

Anyway, make an hour and a half and watch this film. This was a good Netflix weekend.

Pros: Amazing ensemble acting, fantastic cinematography, awesome sound, excellent storytelling and seamless integration of historical material.

Cons: It was too short. I could have easily watched three hours of this, if the quality could be maintained.

***** out of *****
Five out of Five.


1.17.08 ~ Jesus Camp

January 17, 2008

Today’s Music: “Red Eye”, The Album Leaf

TODAY’S TOPIC: Film of Choice – Jesus Camp

Tonight I watched “Jesus Camp”, a documentary on loan to me from Karen Popp (one of my coworkers and work-friend) which was of course on loan to her from Netflix. I’d seen clips of this some time ago and wanted to see it, and had totally forgotten about it until she brought it up the other day.

I don’t quite know where to begin. It’s definitely a political fan about the extreme Evangelical conservatives in the nation. It does an excellent job of implying this on the most subtle levels while keeping you interested in what’s happening with the kids. More than once the ministers come right out and say that they are training these children to be “warriors” and to take over the nation. It’s a little frightening that not only are the Evangelicals (both moderate and severe) are the largest group of voters, but also the group of people most likely to go out and vote.

On one hand, I have to say I wasn’t as incensed by the entire film as I was by the brief clips I watched on YouTube. Part of me is warmed by seeing children with faith, well-spoken children who have each other for a community. It’s good to see children who admit to being teased and not letting it bother them. On the other hand, the narrow-mindedness is troubling. The children, when speaking during interviews, often sound far more grown up than they are. It is as if you can hear the adults who monitor their lives speaking through them. It isn’t the Holy Ghost; it’s the pastors and ministers.

More troubling than the children are the adults featured in the films. Violent and almost terrorist-like, these people exist with a singleness of vision that is at once both commendable and frightening. Becky, the woman leading the camp, spends a fair amount of time describing how the extremist Muslims raise their children from very young ages not to be afraid of dying for their faith. That’s how they can, in their teenage years, so bravely carry hand grenades into public places. That’s what we should be teaching our children, she says. (The first part is not a -direct- quote, but you get the idea. The latter part essentially is.)

As a film, it’s very well done. While covertly being a liberal film, I felt overall it was very unbiased. The few facts it presented were very cut and dry. “75% of all homeschooled kids are Evangelical Christians.” Pure numbers without commentary one way or the other. The directors and producers make no comment for the entirety of the film. All that’s said and shown is what’s said and done by the subjects. There is, of course, an outsider radio host who has a few soundbytes, but these clips I felt were put in to guide the audience to one question or another.

I don’t have much to say about this one. I took a shower after finishing it, to give myself more time to think about it. I’m still digesting it. Maybe I’ll have a solid statement to make one way or another about it in a few days or a week. Right now I don’t even know if I’d actively recommend it. It’s an excellent film, and I enjoyed it. I felt it had a strong message, politically. I just don’t know if I’ll make a big stink out of telling all my friends.

**** out of *****

(a.) Yes, I stole Jordan’s rating system.

b.) I now go to sign up for Netflix.)