Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Last Temptation of Christ


This is truly an amazing film. There is a lot of controversy that has surrounded it since its conception, but it is absolutely remarkable, nonetheless.

The Last Temptation of Christ is a Scorcese film that tells the story of the Gospels, more or less, but with a change. Well, with a few changes, like music by Peter Gabriel and Willem Dafoe playing Jesus, and the doubts and weaknesses that are generally not associated with the Son of Man. However, the change to which I refer is the last temptation itself. The devil comes to him in the form of a little girl as he hangs on the cross and tempts him with the creature comforts of a family and long life. He accepts, thinking that the girl is an angel from God, and comes down from the cross. He marries Mary Magdalene, until she dies, then marries Mary, the sister of Lazarus. On his death bed, Israel is burning to the ground and there is no salvation because he never fulfilled his fate. The world is completely wrong. And so he finds himself back on the cross. He never came down. It was only his desires.

The controversy comes in portraying Jesus as a man. But Jesus was a man. He is fully man and fully God, and we know that He experienced fear. We know that He didn't want to die on the cross. The night before He died, he prayed to God as he cried uncontrollably and sweat blood, for goodness sake, saying to his father that if there were any way that He did not have to do this, please, by all means. He was terrified. He did it because it was God's will and it was for the good of mankind. That was His divine nature. But His nature as a man made Him fearful, and He would have done it another way if He could. As a religious person, I see some flaws with how the Gospel is represented. But all in all, I do not consider it blasphemous as long as you take it as fiction.

I was intrigued by the way Judas was represented. Judas was Jesus' friend, and in this film, it is his fate to betray him. He was not an inherently evil person. He was supposed to. It had to be done. We believe that Judas betrayed Jesus because of greed, and that his sin sent him to hell. But it may be true that it was fate. Who knows the will of God? It could be true. We know that Jesus had to die. He knew that, too. Judas was part of that plan. It is an interesting representation of Judas.

This story line has been used in several other television shows that I am aware of, obviously modeled from the film. That is was interested me in seeing the film. I was very familiar with the story, enough that I was able to notice these take-offs, so I wanted to see the real thing. The X-Files made a famous episode where Mulder was tempted by creature comforts and leaving his quest for the truth. It was an obvious take-off, and it was full of Christian symbolism. It marked the beginning of the shows entrance into a religous allegory where Mulder portrayed a Christ figure that lasted until the end of the series. It is fascinating that they chose the story line of this film to mark the beginning of that allegory.

The only complaint that I have about this film is that, like this blog, is was entirely too long. It was more than two hours before he even recieved his last temptation. I think they just as easily could have began with Jesus' first 3 temptations, then moved right into Holy Week.

Other than that, I think this is a brilliant, thought-provoking film that everyone should see--as long as they keep an open mind.

(Final blog. Jami out.)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Animal House (1978)




John Belushi
Tim Matheson

Since this is my last blog, I felt that I had to pay tribute to all college students. Yes, Animal House was made in 1978, but it definitely promotes the feel of an 80's movie and epitomizes the college dream.

Animal House is number one on my list. For me, it is the best comedy of all time. It is gross, perverted and hysterically funny. The Delta Boys are on "double secret probation" for their crazy and wild parties, cheating on tests, and excessive drinking. Although they are seen as "the worst house on campus," in actuality they are the best because they defy all of the rules and make the other fraternities look bad.

"I'm a zit, get it?!"

Every college student needs to see this movie. I'm sure everyone has seen this movie more than a dozen times, but just watching it again reminded me of how funny it truly is. I recommend that everybody rent it or buy it over the holidays! Better yet, ask for it as a Christmas Present!!

"Double Secret Probation"

National Lampoon's European Vacation (1985)



Chevy Chase
Beverly D'Angelo

And another crazy National Lampoon's movie. Although this movie is a classic, it is surprisingly not one of my favorites. It has some funny lines and an overall goofy plot.

The Griswold's are off to Europe! Clark has planned the ultimate family trip. He, as always, has wild ideas about the activities he and his family should do to become more united. He ends up screwing the whole trip up which is not uncommon for him. He drags his family around Europe, accidentally posting naked pictures of his wife, and almost killing his family in the process. However, since he is a Griswold, he manages to save his wife from the European kidnapper and get his family back to America in one piece.

Chevy Chase always plays the role of Clark, but he, in this Lampoon movie bothers me. I do not know if it is becuase he does so many dumb things such as dressing up in later-hosen, embarassing his kids, or posting naked pictures of his wife. Nonetheless, his character to me is not so funny and the plot is somewhat pointless.

This film is just one of the many insane Lampoon movies. It's good, but not great. Some may disagree, but I do not think it compares to some of Chevy Chase's later Lampoon movies.
However, if you are going to watch National Lampoon's Christmas vacation, you have to watch National Lampoon's European Vacation first.


Caddyshack (1980)



Rodney Dangerfield
Bill Murray
Chevy Chase

I have to disagree with Jami on this movie. You have to look at this movie from the comedic standpoint. Rodney Dangrfield who plays Al Czervik is brilliant in this movie! The lines that he comes out with are classic! I know this becuase I hear people constantly quote these famous lines all the time. Even though it was made in 1980, I hear many young people quoting lines from it and recommending it to their friends.

The plot of this movie is based around Bushwood Country Club and the status that one needs to be a member at this "elite" club. Rodney Dangerfield makes Judge Smails, who plays the complete protagonist, look like a fool. His witty and quick remarks make this movie a timeless classic! And honestly, who doesn't like a dancing gopher and a babbeling idiot (Bill Murray)? Al Czervik does everything to make Bushwood look bad. However, the caddy's like him because he gives good tips and makes them laugh because he is always cracking jokes about the judge. Although the movie focuses on Al Czervik and his story, there also appears to be a subplot. This subplot foucses on Danny, who is the financially unstable young caddy, and the relationship with his girlfriend.
I'm sure everyone has seen Caddyshack and most probably owns a copy of it. If you haven't seen it, it is time that you go out and watch it!

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation (1989)


Chevy Chase
Randy Quaid
Beverly D'Angelo

The Griswold's are back again!!!

The National Lampoon movies are some of the funniest movies that I have ever seen. This is probably true because Chevy Chase is such a versatile and hysterically funny actor. I have always loved the original 80's Lampoon movies, but this one takes the cake!!!

Clark Griswold is back again ready to unite the family for the best Christmas ever!! The whole family is home for the holidays and Clark is bound to "make this the happiest Christmas since Danny fuckin K!!" However, the in-laws come into town, along with the cousins...Cousin Eddy in particular and "know how to make it a real nice time!" The Christmas does not go as planned, in fact they end up kidnapping Clark's boss and wrapping him up with a big red bow, hoping that they will get the long awaited bonus...and not the jelly of the month club ticket.

The overall plot is hilarious. My question is, who comes up with this stuff? It is so simple, yet so dynamic and complex. For such a simply made movie, ie. filming in a normal neighborhood with a decent sized house and an typical insane family, is pretty impressive. I think the characters add much needed complteteness to the plot. In fact, my favorite character is Cousin Eddy. The movie probably would not be the same without him. His famous line, "The shitter is full!" cracks me up every time!

This film is a must see!!! I DEFINITELY recommend that people see it over the holidays with their family!! It's a timeless classic and I gaurantee that you will not get sick of it!

Uncle Buck (1989)


Uncle Buck is back in town!!!

John Candy
Macaulay Culkin

The loveable John Candy is back in the controversial role of Uncle Buck! This movie is not John Candy's best. The overall plot is kind of typical and I only found a few parts in the movie considerably funny.
John Candy plays the role of the "insane" uncle who has essentially been excommunicated from the family. The parents are forced to have Uncle Buck watch their kids becuase the nanny can't come and the oldest daughter isn't mature enough to take care of her younger brother and sister. Buck plays the character that everybody loves to hate in the beginning, but toward the end of the film, he plays the guy that most people can sympathize with. He enforces rules that the kids are not used to following. Although at times his rules seem completely ridiculous, many times I found myself agreeing with his ideas. Buck's relationship grows throughout the film with the children, especially with the oldest daughter who hated him in the beginning. Even though Buck is a gambler and not very well off, he has decent morals that he lives by, and these are displayed when he puts his sister's children in line. Specifically when the oldest daughter sneaks out to a party with her sleezy boyfriend. Buck goes after her and pulls out a power tool on the boyfriend who is actually fooling around with another girl.
Once again, this is not my favorite 80's film, but I guess it's worth seeing once. Like I said earlier, John Candy is the guy that everyody loves to hate. He is a decent actor and even though I do not like this movie, he fit this role well.

Ran (1985), or, as they say in Japanese, "Ran (1985)"

One night I thought I would go to the library and check out an eighties movie instead of sitting around and watching The Golf Channel all night, like usual. So I go on the reserve database and see this cool looking Japanese movie called Ran. I'm thinking to myself--"Ran? Must be about samurai warriors running from each other. Sweet." I bring it home and we watch it--and it goes on for an hour and a half--two hours--and I'm thinking, "How long is this movie?" At this point I grabbed the case and the running time is 160 minutes. Right--so you can imagine, I'm thinking to myself--"Geese. I've got to have this thing back by eight thirty AM or they're going to fine me five bucks. But I've still got forty minutes of it to watch"--so, like the diligent student of 80's films I am, I finish the thing off and get up early and get extra espresso in my coffee the next morning.

But I survived, unlike most the characters in Ran. Hidetora, an aging war lord residing over a large province, decides to give his duties to his three sons so he can retire. The three sons end up hating the father for being a loud drunk with his group of loud and drunk warriors. They all have a bunch of women hanging around, some of which commit suicide in an amazingly graphic scene of burning buildings and deliberately falling on swords.

The old man does some acting. I mean, close-up facial expression Shakespearean style over dramatic acting. He goes from happy, silly drunkard to obstinate and unwelcome visitor to totally mindless crazed old man who's doomed to die. I don't think the Japanese people who made this like happy endings. It's in subtitles so you have to know how to read. If you want to see some cool fighting scenes mixed with obvious and exaggerated acting, check it out, but give yourself time because it's not a short movie.

Oh yeah, and I guess this is some kind of adaptation of Shakespeare's King Lear or something, so if you're Eli you should probably run and get it. (Or should I say--Ran and get it).

If you want to become a samurai I found you a place to learn.

When Harry Met Sally (1989)



Billy Crystal
Meg Ryan

When Harry Met Sally is the ultimate Romantic Comedy. This is the cutest and funniest love story that I have seen in awhile. Although the story is completely unrealistic, it creates a great fairy-tale.

The film is about the comedic love story between Harry played by Billy Crystal and Sally who is played by Meg Ryan. Harry from the get-go is in love with Sally, but she initially hates him. They spend 12 years and 3 months discovering where their relationship stands. It is funny that their relationship goes from the hate stage, then to the friend stage, and eventually to the love stage. It is apparent that they will end up together by the end of the movie. Even though you know that it is coming, all the humor and drama in between makes you want to keep watching.

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are an unbeatable team on the screen. Their love seems very realistic and believable, unlike some more recent films like The Wedding Date. They have this connection on screen which radiates in their more passionate love scenes.

I seriously recommend this romantic love story to anyone who wants to laugh or to anyone who is involved in a relationship. It is 96 minutes of your life well spent!! On a scale from one to ten, I would give it an 8.