Tuesday, May 30, 2006

FILM FESTIVAL PAGE UPDATE

Today's update of my Film Festival Page reports the major awards at the recently completed Cannes International Film Festival. I've gone out of my way to provide a link for each film so that you need not waste time in finding information about the film in which you are interested. There are links to a list of all the winners, the Cannes IFF Official Site, and a link to read my 2006 Cannes Highlights.

On this blog, check my NEWSVINE link at the bottom of the right sidebar for the article reporting that Italian actress Monica Belucci (Magdalen, The Passion of Christ, 2004), who served on the main jury at Cannes, has agreed to star as Sonia Gandhi, the Italian-born woman who married into India's most powerful political dynasty and now heads the country's ruling party. The deal was made at Cannes.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

SECOND: MIMI AND THE CODE

Please read the previous post before reading this one. Thanks!

How did I find the THE DA VINCI CODE -- the movie? Unfortunately, I saw it in a theater where they were pushing the high-tech surround-sound system much too loudly. That was extremely distracting. I thought Tom Hanks' acting was below par for him. I don't think he got Robert, and that Tautou's Sophie should have been stronger.

In the book there is the impression that there are "sparks" between Robert and Sophie, that their relationship will continue after "The End". I felt none of that in the movie. In a movie one must feel relationships between characters, not only rationalize them. I didn't feel it in this movie between Hanks and Tautou. I agree with the majority of the critics.

The book is a splendid read for intellectuals who know something about comparative religions, the Masonic Order, the Druids, Greek and Roman mythology, symbolism, etc. It's for those who do not obediently swallow the force-fed doctrines of any religion, but who are "seekers" and can ponder the "what ifs". I am a what-if person, with enough of an education to separate out the contrived fiction from recorded history.

I loved the book, scanning it again before seeing the movie. I most definitely enjoyed the movie, and expect to get the DVD the moment it is released. It will go in my library with THE PASSOVER PLOT (1976), and THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988).


The DA VINCI CODE movie is a puzzle to solve, a suspenseful thriller, and I think it gives better than the critics gave to it! Yes, there is a lot of exposition and dialog, but all necessary to the intent of the movie. Luckily, I still maintain the art of listening and comprehending. Apparently, some of the critics do not. I recommend it to all adults who can think for themselves, and enjoy a very suspense-filled movie experience.

Finally, may I state that all the critics I read were males. Could it be the male of the species still has a problem with women and divinity? I couldn't help seeing that director Ron Howard actually "got" the premise of Dan Brown's book. You know, the possibility that a female might be capable of communing with God, teaching, and preaching, contain the Devine within her. If we believe the words of Jesus in the New Testament, he would have had no problem in designating a woman to carry on his work.

Most of the sexist problems in Christianity arose first from Saul of Tarsus, a.k.a., Apostle Paul, and then quite possibly from the Nicene Council who chose the writings to be included in the Holy Bible -- all men. The Nicene Council is a historical fact. Basically, the movie is not about theology, but does the male psyche automatically get defensive and make it so, as with homosexuality?

Jesus was married? Just the thought offends many. However, Jesus was about 30 when he came on the public scene. In his time, a male of his age would have been one of two things -- married, or a homosexual. So, Christians, which do you prefer that he was? After all, he was "God made flesh"/human. Being a female, sexual preference of others does not threaten me. Did it threaten some early Christian males as it threatens some males today?

Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? From the female perspective, that could be the greatest book ever written.

First: THE DA VINCI CODE Critics

Surfing the Web I found that, basically, those critics who were negative found THE DA VINCI CODE too talky, plodding, stodgy, too literal, and containing too much exposition. Variety film critic Todd McCarthy wrote that the bestseller had been turned into a cinematic "grim thing".

One accused Tom Hanks (Robert Langdon) of performing like a zombie. Some critics found the weight of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman's script too heavy to bear, saying Langdon's lengthy asides on religious and cultural icons choked the story's suspense.

Another critic asserted that there was no chemistry between Hanks and Audrey Tautou (Sophie Neveu). Still others complained that there was too much music, and the film was overly grandiose.

Only one critic that I read confessed that he had not read the book. No wonder he did not get it. I wonder how many others never read the book, either.

Almost all the critics agreed that Sir Ian McKellen was outstanding in the role of Leigh Teabing. I wonder if they will submit him to the Academy as a lead, or supporting actor?

Of course, Opus Dei was negative. Mike Collett-White reported that the conservative Catholic movement depicted as a murderous cult in THE DA VINCI CODE invited media in Rome to one of its vocational schools in a working class section of the Italian capital. The aim was to show off the school's training of young people to be mechanics, electricians and chefs as an example of the good works done by Opus Dei. Opus Dei spokesman Manuel Sanchez Hurtado, referring to the movie said, "Soon this regrettable but fleeting episode will be forgotten. . . . Let us hope that its lessons about mutual respect and understanding are not."

Collett-White also reported that Lou Lumenick of the New York Post was far more upbeat: "Ron Howard's splendid. THE DIVINCI CODE is the Holy Grail of summer blockbusters: a crackling, fast-moving thriller that's every bit as brainy and irresistible as Dan Brown's controversial bestseller."

Sir Ian tried to make light of the controversy. "I'm very happy to believe that Jesus was married," he said. "I know the Catholic Church has problems with gay people and I thought this would be absolute proof that Jesus was not gay."

Director Ron Howard said, "There's no question that the film is likely to be upsetting to some people," Howard told reporters. "My advice, since virtually no one has really seen the movie yet, is to not go see the movie if you think you're going to be upset. Wait. Talk to somebody who has seen it. Discuss it. And then arrive at an opinion about the movie itself. . . . This is supposed to be entertainment, it's not theology."

Next: What Mimi thinks of THE DA VINCI CODE, the movie.

Monday, May 22, 2006

DA VINCI CODE Weekend Best of Year


The critics at Cannes may have crucified THE DA VINCI CODE, but viewers voted at the box office, and its opening weekend was a winner. The domestic take was $77 Million, with a worldwide take of $224 M, according to Sony Pictures.

Although both figures certainly exceeded the forecasts of the critics, the domestic box office did not top the all-time record of the 2002 U. S. opening domestic weekend for SPIDER-MAN: The Motion Picture, $115 M. Worldwide, the record for an opening weekend is last year's STAR WARS: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith's $254 M.

The animated OVER THE HEDGE (# 2), which radical Christian groups suggested as alternative movie-going for the weekend, came in a little over $37 M, and SEE NO EVIL (# 6) grossed a little over $4 M. Placing at 3, 4, and 5, were the previously released MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III ($11 M), POSEIDON ($9 M), and RV ($5 M).

The big question on everyone's mind now? Does THE DA VINCI CODE have legs?

Next Post - Chewing the "DA VINCI" Critics.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

"CODE' and SIX OTHER MOVIES OPENING TOMORROW


Seven movies are opening tomorrow, only three nationwide, and only one for which the viewing public over 17 is probably waiting - THE DA VINCI CODE. It will open with OVER THE HEDGE from Dreamworks, and SEE NO EVIL.

Actually, THE DA VINCI CODE is opening world-wide, starting in China. From there, it will follow the International Time Line around the globe. I think by now all my readers know something about THE CODE. I read the book, and expect to see it tomorrow. I shall post much more about it.

OVER THE HEDGE (d. Tim Johnson & Karey Kirkpatrick) is another cutie-pie animated film from Dreamworks populated with talking animals voiced by celebrity actors: Bruce Willis, Garry Shandling, Wanda Sykes, William Shatner, Nick Nolte, Thomas Haden Church, Allison Janney, etc.

SEE NO EVIL (d. Gregory Dark) is not to be confused with the alternate title for George Clooney's SYRIANA. This one is a horror flick aimed at the 13 to 20 year-old, hormone-pumping teens who are ending the school year in many places as I write, and are ready to p-a-r-t-y. The taglines? "Eight Teens, One Weekend, One Serial Killer," and "This Summer, Evil Gets Raw." I think you get the picture. It may do very well its first weekend out up against a kiddy flick and an intellectual adult movie. On the other hand, it may not.

The four films in limited release for those who live in New York and Los Angeles deserve a mention, but I doubt that anyone is holding his/her breath to see them. In the New York area only: LEMMING and MOUTH TO MOUTH.

In the New York and L. A. areas: THE KING (d. James Marsh). Mexican actor Gael GarcĂ­a Bernal portrays twenty-one year old Elvis who, recently honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy returns to Corpus Christi, Texas, to seek out his gringo father, whom Elvis has never known because he was raised by his Mexican mother. His father is pastor of a local Baptist church, and he immediately rejects Elvis. Violence and tragedy of biblical proportions are unleashed when Elvis enters into a relationship with his half-sister. I give the synopsis for this film because Bernal is wonderful eye candy for female viewers and a good actor, too. Besides, this film intrigues me since I once lived in Corpus Christi, and I've known some ministers who weren't all their congregations thought they were. Really!

Then, there is something called TWELVE AND HOLDING in very limited release. I think THE DA VINCI CODE and OVER THE HEDGE will edge out the rest by a significant margin. Happy viewing!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

In God we trust. The rest we monitor.


"In God we trust. The rest we monitor," is one of the "tag lines" for the 1998 movie ENEMY OF THE STATE, starring Will Smith, Gene Hackman, Jon Voight, Lisa Bonet, and directed by Tony Scott. It's about chicanery in the National Security Administration (NSA), which is literally drunk on power and running amuck, spying on Americans to the max. Does the NSA and spying on Americans ring a bell for you? The movie is, of course, fiction. Or, is it?

A successful lawyer named Robert Dean (Smith) meets an old pal, frightened and running, who slips Robert a computer disc without his knowledge just before the pal is killed. A senior officer at the NSA with the last name of Reynolds (Voight) wants that disc back because it implicates him in the politically motivated murder of a U.S. Congressman, and he will stop at nothing to get it.

Robert is viciously pursued, and it takes him awhile to discover the disc, not before another friend is murdered. He knows the danger he is in and contacts a old friend "Brill" Lyle, a technical genius who formerly worked at the NSA.

Meanwhile, Reynolds uses all the sophisticated spying equipment, and personnel at the NSA to wiretap, film, tap into all kinds of personal files, etc. He tracks first Robert and then Brill, in order to eliminate both of them, neither of whom have broken a law. Well, not until they realize what is going down. Then, to heck with the law, survival is paramount. Of course, Robert and Brill are the good guys from the get-go, and they win, but only after one life-threatening experience after another.

Back in the real world. Someone asked the question on the IMDB, "Can you imagine not having any privacy at all?" My answer is, "That day is here. No need to imagine."

After what has gone down with the CIA, the NSA, and the former head of the NSA General Michael Hayden in recent weeks, any rational American can see the handwriting on the wall. The premise of ENEMY OF THE STATE is coming true right before our eyes. We are watching the nightly news, not a movie. If Hayden is appointed head of the CIA, he will have it, the NSA, and the Pentagon in his pocket. All are under the Executive Branch. Never in my lifetime have I seen so much power concentrated in the Executive Branch. Yee Gads!

If you haven't seen this movie, get it. It will scare even the casual viewer enough to vote for a Democrat this fall.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

CARDINALS SAY IGNORANCE FUELS "DA VINCI CODE"

Thanks to Salam Pax, also a member of Newsvine, I am learning some new Internet communication skills, and I just "seeded" my first article. You will find the article(s) on the sidebar at right, at the very bottom under MIMI'S NEWSVINE LINKS. Also, you may click the title of this post for this particular article, but links to most articles may be linked independently of posts.

Anyway, my first article seeded is about Roman Catholic Cardinals bemoaning the religious ignorance they say fuels worldwide interest in the best-selling novel "The Da Vinci Code," now a film that will premiere May 17 at the Cannes Film Festival. This begs the question. If Christians, especially Roman Catholics, are ignorant about the precepts of their faith, whose fault is that?

Answer: The fault, dear sirs, is yours!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

FILM FESTIVAL PAGE UPDATED

My Film Festival Page has just been updated. Updates include the San Francisco International Film Festival, the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, Toronto. All are winding down this week. Plus, there's info about the upcoming Cannes International Film Festival, and lots of links. See the sidebar LINKS at right for link to Mimi's Film Festival Page.