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Posts Tagged ‘Amy Adams’


Since I’ve been on vacation, I’m a little late to the party, so to speak, when it comes to Man of Steel. If I could use one phrase to sum up the movie, it would be “over the top.”

It bears the marks of both Zach Synder (300) and Christopher Nolan. There is plenty of action, loud action. The rather simple plot line seems to be convoluted, or confusing, at times. The story line takes you places you aren’t sure you need to go. And the story line doesn’t necessarily go in a straight line. That might be what happens when you try to put two movies into one.

I am getting ahead of myself.

This reboot is large parts of Superman (origins) and Superman 2 (the conflict and enemy). After Kal-El leaves Krypton, the rest of the origin story is played out in flashbacks largely woven into some original material. As his father Jal-El, Russell Crowe (who played Robin Hood) has infinitely more to do than Marlon Brando ever did. Much of it was quite physical, unlike Brando’s role. He got to revive some skills he needed to play Maximus. The story begins with a planet that has run out of energy and is ready to implode because they have tapped into the core to get power. You can’t help but wonder if this is some political statement. But the Jal-El, the scientist, and General Zod both accuse the government officials of endlessly debating things while everything fell apart (another political statement). But they have different opinions about what should be done. Essentially the point is no one listens to the scientists.

It is quite interesting because they used an unusual form of population control: no natural births. They were able to create children genetically suited for the roles they will perform in society. Jal-El and his wife rebel against the government policy, seeking the hope of Krypton. With the destruction of Krypton immanent, they send their newly born son, Kal-El, to a new planet where he will be “like a god.” There are a number of allusions to Christ throughout the movie in addition to his name (similar to voice of God), including a scene in a church as he wrestles with his place in the world, Jesus in the garden is seen in the stained glass over his shoulder. But Superman saves the world through his strength, Jesus through His sacrifice.

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There are some great boxing movies: Rocky, The Hurricane, Raging Bull, and Cinderella Man. And then there are some lousy boxing movies, The Main Event comes to mind. So does everything after Rocky III. You’ll notice something about the best ones- they are based on true stories. As a result, they are not just about boxing. They deal with subjects like family dynamics, racism, profound set backs like the Depression.

The Fighter is based on the true story of Welterweight Champion Micky Ward, or rather the story of how he became champion. It deals with family dynamics, addiction, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is about second chances.

Christian and Mark as Dicky and Micky

Micky grew up the younger half-brother of “the Pride of Lowell”, his brother Dicky Ecklund (played marvelously by Christian Bale). Dicky made his claim to fame by knocking down boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard (or did Sugar Ray just slip?). After his brush with fame, Dicky went down hill. When we enter the story, he is Micky’s trainer and a crack addict. But he is still the apple of his mother’s (and Lowell, MA’s) eye. Micky (played by a subdued Mark Wahlberg) fights on, as an afterthought. His career started well, but with the family distracted by Dicky’s antics (his mother is Micky’s manager) his career has taken a decided downturn. Micky finds himself at a cross roads: will he be brought to nothing by his brother’s problems and the dysfunction represented by his mother and white trash half-sisters ( they add an authentic and hilarious element to the movie).

Their perpetually smoking mother and manager

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Doubt is an interesting period piece set in the 1960’s shortly after JFK’s assassination.  It takes place in an inner city parish.  Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the parish priest who finds himself in a battle with a Pharisaical nun (Meryl Streep) how serves as principle of the Catholic school.  It plays, in part, on the fear of the pedophile scandal to set up the Javier-like persecution of the priest by the nun.

Without proof, she is certain he is a child molester.  As a result of her dislike of him, she misinterprets all his actions.  It is a depiction of how dangerous our “certainty” can be when it is not grounded in reality.  Our subjectivism easily runs rampant, destroying the lives of others in the process.  Even (especially?) the life of the moral crusader

Caught in the tussel is the young boy he’s accused of abusing.  And a young nun (Amy Adams) who teaches at the school.  She is the one who initially thinks something is wrong, triggering the principal’s crusade. But she wants a different kind of certainty.

The movie leaves one in doubt, of a kind.  At the end you aren’t sure exactly what the priest has done.  He’s guilty of something, afraid she will dig it up.  But it seems not to be what she accuses him of doing.  Yet you see some of the actions/behaviors that created the priest scandal.

Also at work is the conflict, in the mid-60’s between the pre-Vatican II and Vatican II movements.  The nun represents the old school, and the priest wants to see a new wind blow through the Catholic Church.  This is part of why she despises him and willingly entertains these suspicions.  I think about our current political context where some people are easily smeared (falsely) due to their affiliation.

So you have a compelling story, and a terrific cast of actors combining to create an exceptional film that opens the door to think about how we really view things.

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This movie won’t be everybody’s cup of tea.  Charlie Wilson was not a very upright guy.  He was conservative in his politics, and liberal in his personal ethics.  Okay, he was a womanizer, and some of those scenes display breasts and Tom Hanks aging buttocks (I don’t think they used a body double on that one).  He has a long term affair with a rich “Christian” lady, and was accused of using drugs during an investigation by Rudy Guliani.  There are enough F-bombs dropped to make a young Eddie Murphy uncomfortable.

Yet … it has a quirky sense of humor that I found hilarious (CavWife, not so much).  I really appreciated the interplay between Hanks and Hoffman.  Philip Seymour Hoffman was just plain over the top in his role as Gus, an old school CIA guy who is on the outs with the new (Carter era) regime).

Useless Rabbit Trails: At one point I wondered aloud about one character- She really reminds me of Amy Adams.  Good reason, it was Amy Adams.  CavWife was astounded at Julia Roberts’ daring bikini scene- daring because she was like 4 months pregnant at the time.  But she didn’t look 4 months pregnant, or even pregnant.

Back to the Real Deal: And it had a message need to heed, regardless of whether or not you think we should have gone into Iraq in the first place.  Charlie Wilson was able to sell the Afghan War as a great opportunity to “kill Russians” and further the cause of the Cold War.  He was the right guy in the right place at the right time to increase the funding necessary to help Afghanistan defend themselves from the USSR.  You also see that some of interest was generated from the humanitarian angle.  Wilson was won over after a trip to a refugee camp.  And so were other key people.

After the war, and subsequent fall of the USSR, Charlie Wilson tried to do the right thing: rebuild Afghanistan.  But he could get no money for schools, much less roads.  So, we helped destroy Afghanistan but left them to rebuild.  As he noted, there would be no NY Times to remind them that we had helped them defeat the USSR (actually, would the NY Times tell us that?).  With a population in which 50% of the people were under 14, they sorely needed education and attention from us.  But they didn’t, and the Taliban turned their hearts against us.  As the movie ends, there is an earthy quote from Charlie Wilson to the effect that we screwed up the end game.

And this is what some want us to do in Iraq- screw up the end game.  I’m not excited about dumping lots of money into Iraq.  But history teaches us that if we don’t try to help them, the next generation will be turned against us- not for removing Sadaam, but for not finishing the job.

I thought this an odd message from Hollywood.  I agree with the message, I was just surprised to hear it coming from  that source.

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