Monday, January 03, 2005

Happy New Year!

I’m back from the grand sweep of Wisconsin and Michigan, and ready for a whole month of nothing but writing and class preparation. I saw several movies over the holidays, which I will briefly comment on.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, special extended version – I hated the extra scene, “The Voice of Saruman”. I will not spoil the results for anyone, but it just didn’t fit with the rest of the movie or the rest of the trilogy. The Mouth of Sauron was cool, and I liked the bigger focus on the romance of Faramir and Eowyn. The other extra scenes were fine, though I’m not sure about the changes to “The Paths of the Dead.”

The Incredibles – this was well done, though I found that it didn’t stick with me after the viewing. I often replay scenes in my head, but nothing really came to mind, even during the nine-hour drive from Wisconsin to Michigan. I’m definitely glad we didn’t take the kids to see this movie. The casual way that heroes and villains died is not something I want to expose the wee ones to yet. I thought the portrayal of the five members of the family was very realistic, especially the way the kids panicked at the first signs of trouble.

Kinsey – our New Year’s Eve date movie, this had a special connection given Kinsey’s position at Indiana University. This was a very good movie, well written and well acted. The movie was not a hagiography of Alfred Kinsey, nor was it a scandal-monger. It showed how his relationship with his father affected his relationship with his own son without dwelling on it, and showed how open marriages can have adverse affects without being preachy. The last two scenes are very touching, including a great showing by Lynne Redgrave.

Annie Hall

– I watched most of this on PBS late at night on Jan. 1. The last time I saw this movie I was only 10 or 12, and didn’t understand most of it. This time I got it, though I’m still not a huge fan of Woody Allen’s humor. I had completely forgotten that Christopher Walken and Harold Ramis were in this movie, though they both did as well as any other character. I would not call this an acting movie, it is more focused on concepts and quick jokes than on actual emotion.

Spider-Man 2 – I found the second DVD extra features much more interesting than those that were included in the first movie. I found I was still annoyed by something that struck me when I saw this in the theatre: comic books and comic book movies always refer to "Science" rather than to Physics, Chemistry, or Biology. Dr. Octavius, in describing how he and his wife met, says that she was studying English Literature and he was studying Science. Come on, the man is clearly a physicist, he is creating a fusion reaction. Of course, the cybernetic arms show a mastery of biology and mechanical engineering as well, so maybe he was a wunderkind studying all forms of science at once. But then he should mention all of them, or acknowledge his special training in some way.

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