...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

May 21, 2008

I'm Not There. - 6

This film is a creative take on the life of Bob Dylan. Dylan is played by six different characters throughout the different phases of his life and career. Christian Bale, Ben Whishaw, Heath Ledger, Richard Gere, Marcus Carl Franklin, and Cate Blanchett, each portray Dylan as a iconic figure known for his influence in music and writing lyrics. Overall the film has a sense of the mysteriousness of Dylan as a public figure who both wants to use it, but also is unsure and at times shies away from the spotlight. While the film is beautifully shot and directed by Todd Haynes, it seems aimed at the Dylan fan more than a general audience. What seems like six stories that are interconnected seems to depend on the viewer understanding the intertextuality that makes sense of the narrative and Dylan's historical influences. This narrative complexity is sophisticated, but also at times confusing. The soundtrack can't help but be great with many covers and originals of Dylan's work.

May 18, 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - 5

This sequel had quite a bit to live up to. The first film (again directed by Andrew Adamson), not only had a great story to work from, but was able to keep all the essential elements and let the Christian allegory not come off as manipulative. This film has what I think is a somewhat harder story to tell, and the allegory is not completely but almost lost in the cheap shots to integrate CGI battle scenes and cheesy romance. The characters of the Pevensie children are under-developed. What is great about this book and film series is that it is suitable to a younger audience while also showing and speaking of real evil. While the books obviously focus on the development of the reader's imagination, these film adaptations show some great visuals to hopefully jump start those lacking a grand an imagination (I include myself in this latter group). For me, the film was somewhat of a disappointment.
What all the books in this series do well is tell a story that relies ultimately on grace: that humans alone cannot somehow earn or work their way to their own selfish good. Rather we are in need of help and rescue from beyond that really is better for human beings in community and relationship.
What might be the ultimate surprise though is the ending ballad entitled "The Call" by Regina Spektor. Unexpected, but a welcome surprise.