Sunday, January 06, 2008

3-Movie Weekend

This weekend had been a triple screening one for me. On Friday evening I went with my folks to see Denzel Washington's new movie, The Great Debaters. It's the true story of a debate team from Wiley College in Texas in the year 1935. The all-black school invites schools all over the nation to challenge them to a debate, and eventually Harvard takes them up on it. It's well done and the characters are moving. But what I was most struck by was the 5 young men sitting in the row in front of us at the theater. They were all African-American and looked to be about 16 or 17, and I kept finding myself wondering throughout the movie what THEY were thinking as they watched the way the black students had to struggle to be taken seriously, and the way the white townspeople treated the college, its professors, and students. These young men could be only two generations removed from the families in the movie, they could have grown up with stories of how their own great aunts and uncles suffered. When they heard the same dialogue I heard, and saw the same action I saw, what were the thoughts they thought? Most definitely not the same thoughts as were in my head.

Then Saturday I saw Juno. Polar opposite in tone! Just plain fun, even with the subject matter being a 16-year old girl finds herself pregnant. Allison Janney (of The West Wing) was brilliant as the step-mother, and Jennifer Garner, not my favorite actress by any stretch of the imagination, was also quite good as the adoptive mom. Clever dialogue, interesting character development, enjoyable movie.

But today, I saw what should win Best Picture. Atonement. I knew the bare bones of the story line -- younger sister lies about older sister's boyfriend and then war intervenes with everyone's lives. But wow. Powerful. Compelling. Moving. I don't even have words to share my feelings. I was swept in to this story so completely, I was so emotionally involved, that I was completely exhasuted at the end of it and had to sit quietly in my seat for a while before I could even stand. Not having read the book I can't compare, but I have to believe this was an incredibly excellent screen play.

I'm exhausted from all this entertainment. But it was so worth it, every minute.


Calandria said...

I really want to see Juno and Atonement!! Sounds like you give thumbs up.

Mama Ava said...

I'm so envious at all the movies!

I started "Atonement" but it just didn't grab me for some reason. I remember it being vague about what the sister thought she saw/what she said, and then I somehow lost interest. Now that the movie is getting such hot attention, I wish I would have stuck with it.

I really liked James McAvoy in "Last King of Scotland" even though I didn't like his character. I saw a preview for "Atonement" and thought he looked great in the role. And I'm always surprised that I end up liking Keira Knightley's roles, because whenever I think of her, I always think I don't care for her.

Are you going to see "Sweeney Todd" though?!

Mama Ava said...

About what the guys thought about "The Debaters." Did you sit there watching, preoccupied with guilt at what your ancestors have done that contributed to the state of the world as it existed in the movie?

I wonder sometimes if African-Americans don't always labor under the burden of history. Maybe sometimes they just watch movies and think, geeze, that would have been hard or terrible or whatever without personalizing it. The way we generally do. I don't know. Now that I live in a situation where I am (willingly or not) representing my country I think about whether I feel guilty or ashamed or matter of fact about some of the things America has done and is doing.

Interesting question...

shawn said...

OK, I can only hope to see adult movies.. P and I were able to see Will Smith in I Am Legend.. which was great.. but since I have a 10 yo daughter, well, The Water Horse and Enchanted it is.. Water Horse good.. Enchanted ok..