Brief comments on film by Amy.
Some old, some new. Domestic films and foreign too.
Blindsight: Despite the fact that I write nearly all of the film reviews for Wisdom and Folly, Jim actually has better taste in movies than I (just don’t tell him I said so). So I don’t know why I resist watching every film he recommends. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that he always chooses movies that I know will need to be digested and pondered. Anyhow, this documentary was no exception. Not to be confused with the recent and more well-known The Blind Side, this is a film about one woman’s determination to help visually impaired children in Tibet. With the help of the first blind person to climb Mt. Everest, Sabriye Tenberken hopes to help others come to understand the capabilities of the blind. One of the things that struck me most about Tenberken, who is herself blind, is her determination to do what is best for the children in her care and not allowing others to define success for them or to exploit the kids for the good of “the cause.” A great flick, even if Jim recommended it.
Scenes from a Marriage: Every time I sit down to watch an Ingmar Bergman film, I have to remind myself why it is I watch his films. They come in bleak, bleaker, and so bleak you might as well do yourself in rather than watch them. He is like Woody Allen on a really, really bad day without the humor. And I think that is why I like him. If you are an atheist (which Bergman was) who believes that there is no intrinsic meaning to life (which Bergman did) then life is quite a bleak affair, especially if you live in Scandinavia where the sun rarely shines and the food is really bad. (Okay, I can’t verify either of those last two facts but I am going on a hunch, alright?). Bergman is an honest filmmaker and though I don’t agree with his worldview, I appreciate his honest portrayal of his beliefs. I will give a disclaimer here. Though the movie is not graphic, it is disturbing. I couldn’t shake it for days, and Jim had to put up with one or two absurd arguments regarding our marriage before I was finally able to put it behind me. So be sure not to watch it on a cloudy day, and give your spouse fair warning.
Twilight Samurai: It surprises me every time how much I love samurai moves. I have seen quite a few including one that was an adaptation of King Lear. Perhaps it’s something about the atmosphere being so foreign that brings the characters and their emotions into a greater clarity. Whatever the reason, I always enjoy them and Twilight Samurai is no exception. Touchingly depicting the conflict of duty to family and the honor of the clan, this is a great film that I couldn’t recommend more.
Public Enemies: I couldn’t recommend this movie less. Are we really supposed to believe that John Dillinger wasn’t such a bad guy after all? One of the many low points for me was when Dillinger, played by Johnny Depp, refuses to take the money from a poor farmer’s pocket, assuring him that he isn’t interested in the farmer’s money, just the bank’s. Up until this point I hadn’t realized that magic fairies created the money held in bank vaults rather than the money coming from those who deposit their money there. Thanks for the clarification. Sure Johnny Depp is charming and well dressed, but that is about the only positive thing I have to say about this one.
Honorable Mentions: Love Happens—Laundry needed to be folded and the Colts had just lost the Super Bowl, but I must say I actually liked this one. Emma—It’s Masterpiece Theater; it’s Jane Austen; it’s even available online for free. Need I say more? I actually convinced Bailey, our ten-year-old, to watch a bit of this one, and he was quoting it the next day, though he did want to know why all the people in the films I watch are British and dress funny. Perhaps a few too many period pieces of late?
Dear Amy, I am new to this blog but already a fan-in-the-making! As a filmmaker + Christian (both for appr. 6 years, so that I just start to realize how they affect each other) + Bergman-fan of old, I would like to emphasize Bergman’s constant struggle with faith, that did not end with his backsliding. In fact he was one of the most earnest seekers of faith in film history. When he was already quite old he said in an interview that he woke up angry every morning, angry about “God’s silence”. Now isn’t that also true for many Christians who just don’t have the guts to speak about it? The unhindered flow of the Holy Spirit, hearing personally and directly from God, the “child” mentality is a pretty new thing in modern Christianity as far as I’m informed, and was certainly not widespread when Bergman was young. We are in fact very lucky to live in the present age, and we tend to forget that it’s mostly the example of others that attracts us toward the faith. Who were Bergman’s examples? I think it’s good that a merciless, intolerant and inhumane Protestantism that was practiced over many centuries in Europe and elsewhere gets mercilessly mirrored by a (genius) filmmaker, even though “through a glass darkly” and even though he calls himself an atheist – which I don’t believe he was. My late father was almost Bergman’s generation, and if I told you about the cruelties he suffered as a child “in the name of the Lord” – being raised in a Protestant household – you would think I’m talking about Guantanamo Bay, not Northern Europe in the 1920s. It kept him away from Jesus for the rest of his life. So I guess we as Christians have to be thankful for films like Bergman’s, because someone has to hold up that mirror, even if Jesus uses atheists to do that. Blessings from Berlin! Armin