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Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Sunday Salon

Hello fellow Sunday Saloners. I haven't done a regular meme in such a long time due to busy-ness. But hey, here I am, and I'm going to blather on about books and stuff.

Actually before I get to books I want to talk movies. I just saw the movie Up last night, and I can't say enough good things about it. It was visually stunning, it had extremely well-crafted characters, and it had just the right amount of action, adventure, humor, and fun. The question in my mind as I left the theatre though, was, "Is Up even a kid's movie?" It's certainly marketed as one. However, during the course of the movie, I could hear a young one sitting a few rows behind me asking her mom every so often what was going on in the movie. During a 10-minute sequence at the beginning of the movie, we watch the main character, Carl Fredericksen, meet his wife and life out a full and happy life with her. They exerience the ups and downs of life. Saving money for a dream trip to South America, breaking into the savings to fix a tire. Settling into a house together. Longing for babies. Finding out they can't have any. And finally, Carl, sitting at his wife's bedside as she slips away.

It's a powerful sequence. My husband and I were both very moved by it, and I suspect many adult viewers will connect with that part of the movie as well. But for the majority of the audience, the entire thing would have gone over their heads.

Now, there are plenty of kid friendly scenes throughout the movie. Carl, who is facing life in a retirement home, attaches his house to balloons so he can fly away and visit Paradise Falls, the place he and his wife had longed to see. He ends up with an inadvertant stowaway in the form of a young Wilderness Explorer named Russell, and together they have a number of adventures. The kids in our showing really loved the dogs who could talk because of a translation collar, and the giant bird who follows Russell around. But most of the kids who watch the movie aren't going to grasp what made Carl decide to attach balloons to his house, or why he's so cranky.

It's interesting to me that with each movie, Pixar pushes the limits further and further of what an animated film can be. Their first movies were definitely kid's movies, except that they had enough plot and sophisticated enough themes that parents could enjoy them. But with movies like The Incredibles, where infidelity is a major plotline, and this one, it seems that Pixar is making movies for adults that kids can still enjoy. I will be interested to see what they come up with next.

Last night I also ended up watching I'm Not There, which is really hard to summarize other than saying its about Bob Dylan. Okay I'll try to explain it. Six different actors portray different aspects of Dylan's life and persona. Except that doesn't really capture how trippy and hypnotic the film is. I didn't actually know that much about Bob Dylan before watching the movie, so I just let myself sink into this movie and not try to "understand" it. Afterwards, I had to google Dylan's life and I could see the connections between how different parts of his life were portrayed by the various actors.

Most talked about (and deservedly so) is Cate Blanchett's performance as Dylan. Her appearance, her mannerisms, her rage are completely uncanny. It's almost eerie. Other portrayers of Dylan were Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and (of all things) Richard Gere.

Having rewatched Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash biopic recently, it was interesting to compare the two. Both Cash and Dylan lived through similar eras, had similar struggles with fame, drugs, and bitter ends to their marriages. But the way each movie went about portraying their lives could not have been more different. Walk the Line is a very conventional movie, while I'm not There is so unusual, someone who didn't know that it was about Bob Dylan might think it was a strange movie with a lot of Dylan music in it.

Now that I've watched both of those movies, I really need to go listen to more of both Dylan and Cash. Maybe while I'm looking at their music on Amazon, I can start finding some new books to read, because I'm about to go to the library and return a big stack of books.

I have been reading. I know I haven't done many book reviews lately, but maybe I'll get to some mini-reviews this week.


Nymeth said...

I'm DYING to see Up! I love the fact that Pixar pushes the boundaries. I much prefer movies (and books) that challenge kids a bit, and that they'll be able to appreciate more and more as they grow up, than movies that talk down to them.

Cate Blanchett was awesome in I'm Not There. I also loved Marcus Carl Franklin.

Alyce said...

I loved the movie Up too! I think it's nice that it has things for adults and for kids in it, although I agree that some of it went over my kids' head (which I was ok with - they didn't need to be crying over the sappy parts like I was). The talking dogs were a hit with them.

Anonymous said...

Up is not released her yet, but I'll definitely watch it when it does.

Kim L said...

nymeth-wasn't Cate Blanchett totally the epitome of awesomeness? I can't even express how awesome she was.

Alyce-it was kind of surprising how sappy it was at points, wasn't it? But yes, the talking dogs were popular in the showing we went to as well.

violetcrush-well worth waiting for!

Trish said...

I hope to see Up soon--I keep hearing great things about it. I really love the Pixar movies (especially Wall-E) and sometimes wonder if adults are getting more out of hte movies than the kids are. I haven't seen I'm Not There but would like it--actually forgot about it until reading your post.

Susan said...

I haven't seen UP yet, and I have height problems, so my husband will be seeing this one with the kids! when it comes out on video I'll get it. Your review makes it sound wonderful, though.

I have yet to see either music biopic and I am curious about both of them! thanks for all the reviews, Kim.