[guest post by Dana]
Saturday night seems like a good night to talk movies. I need some recommendations. Since I’m on vacation, I will watch more movies over the holiday season than I will the entire rest of the year when there just isn’t the luxury of time. Some of what I’ve watched has been good, and some not so good. Here’s a sampling of what I’ve watched recently.
The Wolfpack: This engrossing documentary focuses on six brothers who were not allowed to go outside while growing up on the Lower East Side, with the exception of a very small handful of times with their parents. The documentary explores how the homeschooled brothers filled their time in the apartment by watching an endless number of movies. They transcribed movie dialogue, word for word, and using handwritten scripts, homemade costumes, and detailed props, made their own versions of the films they watched. Their attention to detail is amazing. Throughout the film, the brothers are interviewed as are their parents. It is immediately obvious that their father has “issues”, yet somehow maintained an uninterrupted and unquestioned reign of power in the home. The siblings’ mother comes across as a loving and kind woman who struggles with regret over how the children were raised. Viewers are richly rewarded when one day, out of the blue, the oldest son ventures outside, thus breaking the power their father held over all of them. And it’s a sublimely sweet moment to see all of the brothers excitedly leave the apartment together to go to a real theater and watch a movie. Their innocent delight at being in a real movie theater almost brought a tear to my eye, same as it did when they dipped their toes into the Atlantic Ocean for the first time.
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief: This documentary examines the Church of Scientology and those who have bravely left the cult after years of membership. It also digs into the background of founder L. Ron Hubbard and his nuttery that is the very foundation for the “church”. It’s surreal listening to the ex-members, once so willing to turn their lives over to the control of bullies and charlatans, try to make viewers understand just how the brainwashing occurred. And it’s distressing to see the consequences when one leaves and loved ones stay behind. It gets worse, too, as those who choose to remain in the cult are required to “disconnect” completely from any spouse, parent, or child who have left. Sadly, as is typical, leave a cult and there’s a price to pay. And in this instance, the price exacted is enormous. I found the entire documentary simultaneously fascinating and disturbing.
The Big Short: This is the new movie about the financial crisis of the mid-2000s. It’s getting a lot of buzz. Suffice it to say, “When it’s time to make a movie dealing in complex material about contemporary financial instruments, is the guy who brought us “Anchorman 2” really the best available option? Consider yourselves warned.
John Wick: Loved this movie. It’s a tough and violent film that never lets the viewer rest. Under the skillful acting of Keanu Reeves, who portrays John Wick, the tender heart of his retired hitman character is revealed in the film’s opening as he mournfully prepares for his beloved wife’s funeral. When her last gift to him, a little beagle puppy is killed by some very bad Russians, Wick comes out of retirement with a vengeance to take care of business. And he delivers payback in a very satisfactory manner. This movie is about a year old, but is well worth watching.
That’s what I’ve been watching. What have you watched lately, and what do you recommend??