Monday, December 17, 2007

Movie Experience: White Christmas

Last night, my wife and I went to The Heights Theater to watch White Christmas on the big screen. It was really a great time and a real blast from the past.

Kathryn Crosby (Bings wife) was there to introduce the movie. She showed old film footage and news reels, shared personal comments, and sang a medley of old songs from the Bing era. It seemed kind of strange at first, but turned out to be interesting and a lot of fun.

I've seen this movie dozens of times, but this was my first time to see it with a live audience in a theater. The big room stage scenes felt much different in the theater. Some of the corny gags and lines worked much better on the big screen too.

It was nice to see such a wide variety of people enjoying the same experience. I really enjoyed it when the crowd applauded song and dance numbers throughout the movie, and spontaneously began singing along with the song "White Christmas" in the final scene.

I will certainly be checking out other historic movies at The Heights in the future.

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Film: The Lives of Others

A very thought provoking story that shows the persuasive beauty and power of a life well-lived. A deeply moving and thoughtful exploration of personhood and the evil of dehumanization.
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Rated R Some sexuality/nudity.

Set in 1980s East Berlin, director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's debut feature (which earned an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film) provides an exquisitely nuanced portrait of life under the watchful eye of the state police as a high-profile couple is bugged. When a successful playwright and his actress companion become subjects of the Stasi's secret surveillance program, their friends, family and even those doing the watching find their lives changed too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Film: Away from Her

I watched this movie with my wife. It's a real heartbreaker that examines one couple's tragic experience with Alzheimer's disease. The acting is good, the story is fairly engaging, but I found it to be dissatisfying in the end. While I tried to empathize with the characters, the dark guilts of their pasts and their fatalistic approach to the future didn't leave me with much more than pity.

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Rated PG-13 Language and Adult Situations

Award-winning director Atom Egoyan produced this film by actress Sarah Polley about a long-married but still very much in love couple whose lives are torn asunder when one of them must enter a rest home. Julie Christie plays the wife, and Gordon Pinsent plays the husband desperate to ensure her comfort in the new setting while burdened with guilt over past behavior. Olympia Dukakis co-stars in this film inspired by an Alice Munro story.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Historic Fiction: The Emigrants

I finished book one of the four volume "Emigrants Series" by Vilhelm Moberg, and found it to be very interesting. As a Minnesotan of Scandinavian descent, my interest might be a little higher than the average reader, but I think the 19th century emigrant experience would be interesting for most mid-western Americans. The writing is as "salt of the earth" as the simple people it describes. Short and well-defined chapters made for good bedtime reading.
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From Library Journal

Published between 1951 and 1961, Moberg's four-volume "Emigrant" epic offers the saga of the Swedish immigrant's role in the settling of the American frontier.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Book Description
Book One introduces Karl Oskar and Kristina Nilsson, their 3 young children, and 11 others who make up a resolute party of Swedes fleeing the poverty, religious persecution, and social oppression of Smland in 1850.