The Giver brings the timely dystopian novel fully and compellingly to life on screen

What The Giver says, emphatically, is that emotions are part of our humanness, and that we cannot suppress the bad without also suppressing the good, and that the result of that suppression — living while asleep, being dead while alive — is no life at all. The movie is enjoyable on every level — its message, acting, cinematography, action. The differences from the novel are reasonable, and the film version expands on and perhaps exceeds the original in places. [Read more…]

Lincoln, a review — and a reflection on dead history and dull worship

Lincoln’s core premise seems to be this: presentations of history should be slow and dull, like a Ken Burns documentary. I knew a handful of minutes in, a few lines of dialogue past the gratuitously brutal and out-of-place war scene, that I would not love this movie. What I did not expect was how uninteresting I would find it throughout. I love history. I revere Lincoln. But at 1:15, almost exactly the half way point, I was distracted by an email and put the screener copy on hold, got caught up in a few things and darned near forgot all about it.

Many have commented before on the odd coincidence of two blockbusters on the same subject, slavery, by two of modern filmmaking’s most beloved directors coming out at the same time: Spielberg’s Lincoln and Tarantino’s Django Unchained. I saw Django back in December. Last month, I also watched the PBS documentary series, The Abolitionists. I found The Abolitionists — all three+ hours — engaging, informative and moving . I found Django emotionally powerful, morally powerful and absolutely entertaining. Lincoln… is dull as drying paint. [Read more…]

PETA’s misleading propaganda war against Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit

PETA has decided to make an example of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit in a publicity campaign to end all use of animals in films. As best I can tell, their case against The Hobbit is thin at best, more likely intentionally deceptive. [Read more…]

Life of Pi: A 3-D delight that stays on course

Life of Pi is one of those books you imagine will not translate well to film. It’s too fantastical and too abstract, while at the same time being basically a one-person story. I’m delighted to say that Ang Lee has pulled off the near-impossible and made a movie worthy of the beloved book [Read more…]

Groundbreaking female animator, and one of my spiritual anchors: Tissa David (1921-2012)

I lost one of my spiritual anchors a few weeks ago when Tissa David died at the age of 91. Most of the world knows her as a breakthrough female animator — an innovator who brought realistic motion to characters, especially female characters. I will remember her as the embodiment of contemplation. [Read more…]

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