Monday, April 28, 2008

Weekend Movie Roundup

Because I wasn't feeling very well thanks to the overwhelming pollen counts, I stayed in to sleep and watch stuff. Watched the first two stories of The Sarah Jane Adventures and a couple of remastered Star Trek episodes, all of which were fun. The rest of my viewing time was devoted to the latest films from my Netflix queue.

I watched The Magdalene Sisters on Saturday evening alone since I wasn't sure if Emily could handle it or not. The film tells a semi-fictional story about an Irish Magdalene asylum during the 1960s. Magdalene asylums were institutions run by various orders of the Catholic Church (the ultimate moral authority in Ireland for decades) for "fallen" girls to atone for their sins. Of course, "fallen" was a very subjective criterion that ranged from having a child out of wedlock to flirting with boys. Unfortunately, a lot of the girls from the 1940s on were placed in these virtual prisons involuntarily, forced into labor for no wages, and abused more often than not. The existence of these places went virtually unnoticed until the early 1990s because the victims had been either shamed or frightened into silence long after their ordeal. The film is based on the documentary Sex in a Cold Climate, which finally broke the silence and is included on the DVD. A very powerful film and certainly a film that needed to be made.

The first part of Sunday was spent with Green Street Hooligans starring Elijah Wood. Like NFL football here in America, football (what we call soccer) is huge in England. Rivalries inevitably arise but unlike England (and many other parts of the world), fans don't tend to form gangs to violently fight other fan-based gangs. I personally think it's beyond stupid whenever riots break out after some major sports victory or defeat here in the US, so you can imagine how idiotic I think of the existence of sports hooligan gangs. Green Street Hooligans is a coming-of-age film for Elijah Wood, a disgraced Harvard student who falls in with a hooligan gang when he visits his sister in England. It's a well-made film with terrific performances all around but I can't get past how the film more or less treats this brutal, thuggish behavior as something to be celebrated.

After sleeping for a while, I finished Sunday with Poolhall Junkies. I've always been fascinated with the game of pool and movies about the game. Poolhall Junkies tells the story of Johnny Doyle, a natural talent attempting to get out of the seedy life of being a hustler. The film is fairly lighthearted and has some pretty good dialogue—sort of a combination of Swingers and The Hustler. One of my favorite parts had nothing to do with pool, but of the quest to find a non-psycho girlfriend. There's also a great minor role by Christopher Walken doing his Walken-iest performance since Pulp Fiction. A good, fun movie to end the weekend on.

Emily still wants to see The Magdalene Sisters, but Green Street Hooligans and Poolhall Junkies will be dropped in the mailbox today. Next up in the queue are Fart: The Movie and The Ringer. I figured the next films should be a bit on the stupid side to give me a break from most of the other depressing fare in the queue like Syriana and Munich.

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