Tag Archives: movies

12 Movies and a Novel

This post is part of the August Synchroblog: Summertime, Summertime, Sum Sum Summertime in which we were invited to share our favorite books and/or movies of the summer.  Be sure and check out the list of contributions to this months synchroblog which I will list at the end of this post as they become available.  To learn more about the synchroblog please visit the Synchroblog site.

When hubby and I went to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes this past weekend I checked in on Foursquare at our favorite theater (of which I am the Foursquare Mayor) and received a message saying that I had achieved a new record because I had checked in “12 weekends in a row” at this particular theater.  12?  Could it really be 12?  We do love to go to the movies, but I wasn’t sure if I could remember 12 movies I had seen in the last three months.

Green Lantern, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Larry Crowne, CaptainAmerica: The First Avenger, Friends with Benefits, Cowboys and Aliens, The Hangover Part 2, Bridesmaids, X-Men: First Class, Super 8, Bad Teacher, Rise of the Planet of the Apes … it looks like we may have been there 12 weekends in a row!

However, I don’t know that I could really write a whole post about any of those movies.  There just isn’t that much substance in summer movies.  They are fun and entertaining but they don’t create a lot of conversation afterwards.  Sure Larry Crowne was a sweet story about the importance of community and second chances; and Rise of the Planet of the Apes could be considered a wake-up call; and Julie Clawson did write a full length post about Cowboys and Aliens which was very interesting … but the most I can really say about my movie experience this summer is that for the most part it was fun and entertaining.  (For the record, I guess my favorite summer flick was Super 8).

That is why I really needed a good, long, epic sort of book to read this summer.  I needed something that I could dive into, live within, immerse myself, connect to, reflect upon, struggle with … but it had to be fiction!  because I am mostly drawn to fiction these days.  I seem to learn more, get more insight, experience more transformation, find truth more in a great novel than in anything else I read these days.  It is something about “the story” that connects me in a way that stays with me.

So that is what led to me reading the novel Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

You probably heard all the hype when it came out last fall … “The Next Great American Novel”  “The Most Over-Hyped New Novel”  “A Poignant Indictment of Contemporary American Life”

It is long (over 500 pages) and covers a span of more than 30 years in the life of a family who is in a sort of free-fall as they try to figure out how to live in the world they find themselves in.

It is almost impossible to give a brief description of the plot as it includes so many things … fidelity, infidelity, politics, war, war profiteering, depression, marriage, friendship, personal liberties, social responsibility, environmental issues, teen rebellion, betrayal, capitalism, regulation, sex, love … even rock ‘n roll.  It tells a lot of stories and it spreads them out over a few decades and continents.

The closeup story centers around a love triangle between Patty and Walter Berglund and Walter’s lifelong best friend/competitor, Richard Katz, who is also a rock star.  The broader story examines life and the stresses of life in our post 9/11 world.

It seems to me that the theme or question that keeps coming up in the story is “how to live with the freedoms we have without destroying ourselves, others, what we care about and the world in general.”  As it turns out, freedom is more than a right or a privilege or an opportunity … freedom is a responsibility, a chore, a problem … sometimes even a curse.  It’s complicated because one person’s freedom often seems to infringe upon another person’s freedom.  Freedom doesn’t really translate into “let’s all be happy and get along” as much as us Americans would like to suggest that it does/can.  I think Walter frames the concept of how freedom isn’t all it is cracked up to be when he says, “…the one thing nobody can take away from you is the freedom to fuck up your life whatever way you want to.”

If you can’t read a book unless you are in love with the characters then this book isn’t going to be that enjoyable for you. None of the characters are cuddly … but they do come off as real people with many layers who are often living contradictions of who they think they are and strive to be.  Franzan is a genius at creating characters that are so real one thinks about them even when not reading the book.  He describes them so thoroughly that it is as if he has actually created a life … someone you might run into at the grocery story or see in the car stopped next to you at a red light.

Although this book is about serious stuff, it does not lack humor (just like real life). It is actually billed as a comedy-drama and Franzen is quite good (astute even) when it comes to witty descriptions of real life predicaments that are roll on the floor funny.  One of the most hilarious moments is when we find Joey (Patty and Walter’s rebellious, mixed-up son) in a hotel bathroom digging through his own poop trying to find his wedding ring that he accidentally swallowed while the girl he is cheating with bangs on the locked bathroom door because she needs to pee.

In the end, I came away with the feeling that I had read something important, something I wanted to talk to others about, something I wanted to ponder.  I also came away with  a few new ideas about freedom:

Freedoms are best enjoyed when they exist with imposed limitations and structure, whether that is in the world at large, a city, a neighborhood, a family or a friendship.

True freedom cannot really be found in any form of autonomy because we are only content when we are in a right and healthy relationship with others and the world we live in.

Can it be called freedom if it leads to depression, loneliness and/or destruction?

If you haven’t already done so, I recommend that you read Freedom by Jonathan Franzan.  Although only time will tell if it truly is a Great American Novel, I think it will be a book that is talked about for years to come.

What would you consider a great summer read?

Check out these other synchroblog posts:

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Three Things Tuesday – Race, Inception and Following Jesus

#1  There’s a new blog “Ethnic, Space and Faith” that is worth the time.  Randy Woodley, the author of Living In Color, is the author and his new blog is a continued attempt to promote ethnic space in faith.   The tag line is “we have no color lines”.  IMO this is important work that is very much needed.

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#2 I saw Inception on opening weekend.  I thought it was the best movie I’ve seen all year and it didn’t stop giving when the final credits rolled … because it is one of those movies that keeps everyone talking.  There are theories being posted all over the net.  Here is one that is getting a lot of attention.

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#3 Josh Harris has a very funny cartoon about how the phrase “following Jesus” might be confusing to some.

Favorite Holiday Movies

When the holidays roll around there are certain movies that I want to watch. The list changes from time to time. For the last several years one of my favorites is the movie “Love Actually”. It’s one of those movies that tickle all the emotions…laughter, sadness, joy. If you aren’t familiar with it you really should give it a try. It follows the lives of eight very different couples who are dealing with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London. The writing, editing and acting are superb.

Another movie that has become a holiday favorite of mine in the last few years is the movie “The Holiday” with Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. Two women with guy problems swap homes for the holidays and each meet someone they fall in love with. It’s funny and touching and has a great monologue by Kate Winslet near the end of the movie.

What are your favorite holiday movies?

Calling All Movie Lovers

Here’s the opening scene of “The Holiday” – it pulls you right in from the beginning…

Eugene Cho over at beauty and depravity had some pretty intense conversations going on in the last week about abortion and the oppression of women

On Wednesday he decided to lighten things up a bit and asked

“what are the films that have influenced you the most and why?”  (he noted this: “I’m not necessarily asking for your favorite films or what you think is the most influential film to impact cinema but rather, the film that influenced YOU.“)

It was hard for me to decide what to list as I love movies and have been influenced by so many.  I tried to pick out three that no one else had mentioned at that point and listed these:

 “Cold Mountain” a beautiful movie about love and loyalty that I found inspiring and moving,

“In Her Shoes” a message about the hope and possibility of transformation for any and all – plus it had some good poetry in it

“Legend of the Fall” all about the importance and power of family.

He also mentioned he needed some help with “favorite chick flicks” so I offered a few…

Love Actually – So many stories – so many happy endings!!!

You’ve Got Mail – Finding true love where you least expect it.

The Holiday – Kate Winslet’s monologues are great and Cameron Diaz and Jude Law sizzle together.

My Best Friends Wedding – Lots of laughs – the restaurant scene where they all sing “I Say A Little Prayer” is a classic.

Sleepless In Seattle – Meg Ryan at her best!

Step Mom – A real tear jerker.

Dirty Dancing – We still use the line “nobody puts baby in a corner” and laugh about getting even with someone by dancing (lol).

An Officer and A Gentleman – This is the movie that made so many women fall in love with Richard Gere.

When Harry Met Sally – Funny and sweet.  The restaurant scene where Meg demonstrates how women can fake pleasure is hilarious.

Father Of The Bride – Funny and sentimental.  Steve Martin and Diane Keaton are hilarious…oh, and I love the wedding planner character!

Top Gun – A chick flick that my husband actually likes!  Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis have great chemistry.

Jerry Maguire – It catches you from the first scene and has some great one liners: “Show Me The Money” and “You had me at hello”

Titanic – True romance!

City Of Angels – Love and tragedy – boo hoo hoo hoo hoo.

What Women Want – Mel Gibson is so funny in this –  I especially love the singing and dancing scene he does.

The Notebook – You need a box of kleenex but it is worth it.

 

I am a lover of movies and am hoping that someone out there will turn me on to some great movies that I may have missed in the past or remind me of something I haven’t seen in a while.  Because of Eugene’s list I have already decided that I am going to watch The Joy Luck Club this month.

 

What do you have to add?  Let Eugene  (and me too) know what movie has influenced you the most and why.  I would also love to just know your favs and what it was that made them your favs.  So sound off…