Blood Diamond

Joe

This is one of the better political movies that I’ve seen.  Unlike many of its genre peers, Blood Diamond avoids self-righteousness and sacrimony and hits hard on its message.
Having heard the term “conflict diamonds” before, I knew that they were bad, but I never really understood why.  The movie does a great job of making really foreign concepts, like children soldiers, completely relatable and understandable to American viewers.
It’s definitely a powerful film with strong performances and a message that truly affects Americans (particularly those of us who are getting married…)

Emily

Well, if you are a girl with a diamond or several on your finger, you might want to think twice before seeing this downer of a movie. It does however put into perspective the diamond market and the lives it costs or did cost at the time. It was an action packed thrilling movie full of bloodshed, deceit, and greed. But overall, I enjoyed it. However, I did feel extremely guilty about my diamond and considered selling it. Until of course I realized how pretty it is. What can I say, diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But back to the point, this movie made me really think about the evil in this world and the greed in this world. It was very interesting and presented moral delimas that cannot be solved. Good movie, and as always, Leonardo Dicaprio was handsome!

Joe:

diamond-clipart

Emily:

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Blood Diamond

Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Connelly, Djimon Hounsou
Directed by Edward Zwick
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Unforgiven

Joe

I’m going to have to disagree strongly with Emily on this one. Unforgiven is one of my favorite Westerns, mainly because of the reasons she doesn’t like it. Clint Eastwood won his first directorial Oscar for his job on this and it was well deserved.
Evil may reign, but that’s true to life; our world is fallen and evil. I enjoyed seeing the conflicted characters struggle through the adventure involved in bringing some measure of justice to a victimized prostitute. But, there was more to it than just that. What is appropriate justice and who is it actually for? On this viewing, I actually found that the evilest character in the movie is the head prostitute, played by Frances Fisher. On several occassions, she dismissed fair punishments that the actual victim seemed pleased with, in order to satisfy the anger that she had for being a prostitute.
This issue of justice is constantly on display in the film’s many conflicts. Is Gene Hackman’s sheriff character justified to beat the tar out of any assassin coming to his town? What are the limits to preventative justice? Unforgiven doesn’t give any easy answers, because there aren’t any. There is very little in this movie’s world that is pure good and pure evil, and we have to answer these questions on our own.

Emily

Horrible movie, no plot, stupid ending, and evil reigns. That about sums up my opinion of this disappointing movie. Maybe I just didn’t understand it, but it was my least favorite movie of the year except perhaps for Indiana Jones.

Joe:

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Emily:

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Unforgiven

Clint Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, Gene Hackman, Richard Harris
Directed by Clint Eastwood

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Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Joe

Part of our two straight days visiting the movie theater, Madagascar 2 was clearly the superior and more enjoyable film (compared to Marley & Me).  I did not have any life thoughts or anything spectacular to think about, mostly because I was too busy enjoying the film and laughing.  First off, I had no idea that Alec Baldwin was a voice in the movie.  I think I will watch anything with him in it, even if he is simply the voice of an animated lion who looks oddly like Liberace.  I guess my one complaint would be that the movie slows down a little when the penguins are not featured.  They are a great side gag who can sometimes steal the main feature.
Most of these animated movies have deeper issues when looked at a little closer.  One of my favorite bits in the movie was a scene when King Julien (played by Sacha Baron Cohen) convinces everyone to participate in an animal sacrifice to please the rain gods.  It’s a pretty sharp and funny criticism of religion specifically and rash decision-making in general.  Any time we think we can predict God or force His hand by doing something, the results can be pretty disappointing.  It reminds me a little of Joel Osteen who tells us that if we just obey God and work to please Him, He will reward us with material wealth.  It’s a big stretch, I know, but it’s dangerous and sets Christians up for disappointment when we are challenged.  
Anyway, a strong endorsement from me for a funny, enjoyable movie.  

Emily

Surprisingly, this sequel was funnier than the original! A big fan of Madagascar, I was excited yet skeptical if they could pull off a second movie of zoo animals who were sent to “the wild.” And boy was I pleasantly surprised! With enough comedy only adults would understand and cuteness for the little ones, this movie was an all around crowd pleaser. I laughed, Joe laughed, my brother laughed and my dad laughed. The penguins were by far the best part of the story line. But of course, we all love King Julienne! As he led the “people” to sacrifice one of their own to please the water gods, he made a good point, “Quickly, before we come to our senses!” This movie made fun of our every day frustrations including the restrictions we face at the airport. “Scissors, hand cream!!!” I would suggest seeing this movie and the first for that matter to anyone who needs a good clean laugh. A big thumbs up from me!


Joe:

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Emily:

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Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer, Jada Pinkett Smith, Sacha Baron Cohen

Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath

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Marley & Me

Joe

Objectively speaking, there are very few redeeming points in this one (The Wire’s Lester Freamon  and Alan Arkin being the two main ones).  The casting, overall, was really bad (Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston just didn’t fit in these roles), and the screenplay really didn’t convincingly portray any of the so-called conflicts and redeeming points of the main character, Marley.  Basically, the plot was: the owners grow up and get jobs and work through their careers together, while the dog ate stuff.  Even the comedic parts weren’t that funny.

*SPOILER ALERT*But then they’ve got to go and have the dog get sick and use every cliche in the book on that one.  There’s a reason that these story lines are cliche; it’s because they’re powerful and I admit to falling victim to the sentimentality.  I know it’s trite,  but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy or develop feelings for the dog. *END SPOILER ALERT*
The one totally random thing about this movie that I wasn’t expecting was the excitement that it built up for newly married life.  It was kinda cool to think about going off and starting my new life/career with Emily in whatever city we choose.  Looking at houses and dogs and life was pretty fun and those thoughts kept me busy when the movie was busy sucking.

 

Emily

I was really excited to go see this movie as dog owners told me it was the best book they had read. And since I’m a dog owner, I must either read the book or see the movie. So I went excitedly dragging Joe along with me. Maybe I got my hopes too high, but it was rather dull. The acting was horrible, which made me sad as I love Jennifer Aniston. The dog, however, was funny. I could sympathize quite a bit with their problems training Marley as they are rather similar to my dog problems. But overall, the movie was a let down. The sad ending did choke me up a little and made me want to rush home and give my two dogs a hug, but that didn’t save the movie by any means. I was very disappointed. I would still recommend seeing it if you love dogs or own one or two yourself, but definitely wait till it hits DVD. It was not worth the price of the theater. Cute movie, but not well casted. Now I’ll have to read the book and see if that is any better!


Joe:

dog-pooping

Emily:

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Marley & Me

Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, Alan Arkin, Eric Dane

Directed by David Frankel

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The Dark Knight

Joe

OK, so this was the second time I’ve seen the film, and let me just say that it took two sittings for me to fully appreciate this sequel.  The action sequences are amazing (especially on Blu-Ray) and the basic plot is the most engrossing comic book adaptation I’ve ever seen.  That being said, it took me a second viewing to really concentrate on the moral questions and issues the film addresses. 

*SPOILER ALERT* Nolan goes out of his way to emphasize that Batman is no hero in our most basic understanding of the word.  Harvey Dent is that hero.  The problem with that is when Dent is thrown a curveball and things don’t go according to his plan and when he finally breaks, he loses it.  In terms of Christianity, Dent is a good metaphor for Christians who cannot leave room for grey.  When the black and white world collapses around him, his faith collapses along with it.  The world is f’d up, and we’ve got to learn to deal with it.  The only one who ever did that effectively was Christ.  Batman and Gordon are probably the closest we can come to effectively dealing with it by ourselves. 

*END SPOILER ALERT* Anyway, beyond the film’s moral implications, it’s an incredible piece of cinema.  Morgan Freeman, oscar-winner, signed on to play a role where he is in maybe 15 minutes of the movie.  That’s how good and deep the cast is.

All that being said, the movie is amazing, and it only took a few viewings for me to realize. I’m just a slow learner, I guess.

Emily

As I sit here trying to think of what to write in my review, all that comes to mind is Dude movie. This action film is definitely a movie targeted towards men who love action, thrill, violence, and amazing car crashes. However, as a female who shies away from action films or dude films in general, it wasn’t a terrible experience. Being the second time I have seen this movie, the Joker still creeps me out, Two Face is disgusting, and Batman is, well, the good guy. This movie does pose some interesting moral delimas. How good are people’s hearts? Would you kill another man to save yourself? Is the human race evil at its core?

So overall, this movie is a neutral for me. Not a thumbs up or a thumbs down. But girls, if your man wants you to share in this dude movie experience with him, it does have some entertainment factor. Not a bad movie to see in order to get a chick flick veiwing in return.


Joe:

joker-smile

Emily:

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The Dark Knight

Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal

Directed by Christopher Nolan

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White Christmas

Given that it’s nearly Christmas, we’ve started watching almost exclusively Christmas movies, and so we’ll be reviewing some classics. Here goes.

Joe

Enjoyable musical. Like most musicals, the plot is thin (the main character’s attachment to the general is not really developed), and there are some weak songs, but truly entertaining performances from Danny Kaye and Mary Wickes add a strong comedic element. The dancing of Vera Ellen was especially noteworthy, and of course, the impossibly deep and soothing voice of Bing Crosby is iconic. Small complaints:

1) It’s not really a Christmas movie. Besides the title song, there is very little about Christmas in the film.

2) Bing Crosby should be doing the final song solo, not as part of the ensemble.

All that being said, very enjoyable movie even without much of a plot.

Emily

This is by far my favorite Christmas movie. With dazzling dance scenes, romance, and the Christmas spirit rolled into one, how could this not be a great Christmas movie? Maybe I’m partial, because I’ve grown up watching it year after year with my father, but I’m certain it will remain a Christmas tradition for years to come. I would highly recommend this musical to lift your Christmas spirit and don’t forget to sing along!


Joe:

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Emily:

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White Christmas (1954)

Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen

Directed by Michael Curtiz

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Burn After Reading

 

Joe

Disappointing. The Coen Brothers followed up their 1996 hit Fargo with my favorite movie of all time, The Big Lebowski. I was hoping for some of the same magic in this year’s follow-up to Oscar winning No Country For Old Men. Unfortunately, this did not live up to my hopes. The characters, with the exception of Brad Pitt’s, were all unapproachable. The idea of everyone having delusions of importance was an interesting concept, but was executed poorly. While the characters were mostly shallow, this was through no fault of the film’s cast. Frances McDormand made the movie semi-watchable.  

Emily 

This movie was a sleeper (literally, I fell asleep halfway through). When watching resumed, the movie’s plot was still confusing and boring. The characters were played well, but (SPOILER ALERT) after everyone was killed off, the audience is left with no real resolution. The movie ended abruptly. Waste of my time.     

 

 

 

 

 

 


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