Monday, October 20, 2008

Movie catch-up

It's been so long since I've posted that I bet my friends are wondering what's happened to me - no movie reviews??? Well, here are a few recent movie experiences...

Ghost Town - My wife and I really liked this movie, a romantic comedy perfect for date night. Ricky Gervais is a dentist who sees dead people (a clever take-off on Shyamalan's Sixth Sense). There are some hilarious and genuine interchanges between Gervais and his love interest, played by Tea Leoni. Underneath the comedy is a deeper message about human brokenness and the important part we all play in healing others' wounds. Thumbs up.

The Counterfeiters - This is a German film that I noticed earned a whopping 94% on RottenTomatoes.com...deservedly so. It's very good but very dark, very violent, and is another one of those movies that takes you kicking and screaming into the sad and scary world of German concentration camps during WWII. It tells the story of a group of Jewish printers and artists recruited by the Nazis to counterfeit British pounds and American dollars to promote the German war effort. I never heard such a thing happened, so it was educational from that angle. The courage of one of the Jews (Adolf Burger) who repeatedly and single-handedly sabotaged the operation was quite inspiring. (By the way, he appears on one of the DVD special features.) His example made me ask myself: Would I imperil my life and the lives of my friends for the cause of freedom and justice? Thumbs up, but not for the weak of heart.

The Lives of Others - My favorite of these three. A long, intense movie (at 137 minutes), it won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film (German) in 2007. The story takes place in and around 1984 in East Berlin, before Glasnost and the destruction of the Berlin Wall. Georg Dreyman is a playwright suspected of pro-Western sympathies, so his flat is bugged by the East German secret police. It gets too complicated to tell the whole story here, but 3/4 into the movie I was completely captured by the interwoven stories of Dreyman, his lover, and the police captain who heads up the operation. It's a poignant commentary on socialism, the politics of fear, and the theme of loyalty vs. betrayal. I'm glad I'm an American. Thumbs way up.

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