What I'm Watching

Thursday, January 31, 2008

American Gun

I loved the cast of American Gun – anything with Donald Sutherland appeals to me and I particularly liked his character in this movie. I’ve always thought Forrest Whitaker was underrated – well until he won the Oscar last year for his role as Idi Amin, so it was pleasure to see him. And I love Marcia Gay Harden. The young actors, who I’ve previously only seen as guest stars on TV shows were also good.

It’s one of those parallel stories deals – with three different plots happening at the same time, essentially. One is about a Chicago principal (Forest Whittaker) working at an inner city school and a teenager there who carries a gun for protection during his overnight job at a gas station, but is almost suspended for hiding it outside the school before going in.

There is also the story of a Virginia Tech Student who interrupts what appears to be a gang rape of her unconscious roommate and in the process is shoved and bruised by one of the man. She happens to work at the gun shop of her Grandfather (Donald Sutherland) and explores the possibility of owning and firing a gun at a competitor’s shop.

We also enter the lives of the mother (Marcia Gay Harden) and brother of a Columbine-esque school attacker. The setting is Ridgeline High School and the video of the scene is strikingly similar to the ones we’ve all seen on TV. After his mom struggles valiantly to keep him enrolled in a private school, including performing a TV interview for money, he is asked to leave due to too much publicity. He must return to the high school his brother victimized, and after meeting a girl at that High School who doesn’t treat him like a leper, she is shot by someone at a convenience store.

I found all the side characters / subplots distracting and underdeveloped…Forest Whitaker’s son sees the body of a murdered prostitute, and father and son have no relationship – at least no until Dad decides to quit his job. The cop who didn’t’ stop the Columbine massacre and his apprehension of the guy who killed the young girl, the whole story of the VA Tech student…

Maybe I didn’t get the movie, maybe over people could see the overarching message, but I found it a bit disjointed. I was also vaguely bothered by the hint that strong women might need guns… the VA Tech student gets lessons from a woman at the shooting range, in response to brutalization by a man. I mean I guess the overall message is that guns are bad, but maybe it’s because I already believe it that this was lost on me,

The actors gave wonderful performances though – all of them – and watching the movie is worth it to witness those alone.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I am Legend

We actually saw this a a while ago - December 23rd, I think, while Lily was staying with the parents.

I liked this movie. Honestly, I wasn't sure that Will Smith could pull off a semi-serious role, though I do think he's funny in the MIB movies. But he played this character with a really nice blend of intelligence, wit and desperation. I also really liked the 28-days like surprise shots - even though things like that always make me embarrass myself in the theater. I am glad we saw this one on the big screen.

Some observations:

I didn't like the way they turned his pursuit of a cure into some noble, self-sacrifice. It seems like he was just trying to survive, and like most scientists, his work was absolutely central to the core of who he was. His work was keeping him sane, not making him crazy. It was the only thing he could do in the situation he was in.

Why does the dog ALWAYS have to die?

I thought the ending was horribly abrupt. I would really have liked to see more of "The Colony". Also, I didn't really see why Will Smith needed to die - it seemed like there was plenty of room in the coal shoot and isn't the nice thing about grenades the fact that you can throw them, then duck and cover?

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