Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's 2009 and I'm still sitting on Mr. Holland's Opus.

Okay, maybe I did fall off the face of the earth for a while. School has been...hmm....shall I say, dicey? That's a word, right? I moved from elementary, which is tough enough, to secondary. Let's face it. Working with teenagers is just plain crazy...important, but crazy.

So, poor Mr. Holland has been sitting there in queue, waiting since June of 2008 for some morsel of attention. That's incredibly embarrassing to say the least.

In the meantime, I've actually seen
Mr. Holland's Opus at least three more times. That would bring my overall viewing of this film up to at least 4 million, give or take. Obviously, something in this story speaks to me. The teacher thing, of course, but there has to be more or I would have relegated it to the drawer where I keep all the other "teacherly" movies I've enjoyed over the Lean On Me and Stand and Deliver. Those are great stories too and are nice to pull out when a little self-pep talk is needed, but Mr. Holland's Opus is more than that. And I think it warrants a real discussion.

I hope there is still someone out there who is willing to discuss.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth...

To those of you who have faithfully continued to check Reel Meaning for new posts, thank you for your interest and perseverance! And to those of you who have emailed and inquired about the fate of the blog, I apologize for the hiatus and I'm not giving up yet! I'm afraid the frantic crunch at the end of the school year has put a cramp in my blogging time. I really do miss the great discussions, though, and definitely plan to resume again this summer. I hope you'll check back and share your thoughts for they are valued!

Also, although Mr. Holland's Opus is the next film up for discussion, if anyone has another movie (new or old) that they would like to discuss, please feel free to suggest it!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another Pollyanna...or Something More?

Starring: Audrey Tautou, Mathieu Kassovitz, Serge Merlin, Jamel Debbouze
Directed By: Jean-Pierre Jeunet
Running Time: 122 Min., Color
Copyright 2001
French w/Subtitles
Rated: R

It's taken a while, but I've finally had a chance to watch (and re-watch) Amelie. to discuss it without restating the obvious? Having only seen the film on satellite TV, I hadn't realized that it was nominated for no less than five academy awards in 2002 and has actually won fifty-one other awards from around the world! It was only when I received my own copy that I learned of its acclaim, but I'm not sure that would have made any difference in the formation of my opinion.

I know it's going to sound strange coming from someone with a blog dedicated to discussing movies, but I really don't care much about the Oscars. I rarely even know that the big event is coming up until it's already over and I certainly don't put much stock in the outcome. I can't really say why, though I do have a sneaking suspicion that it has something to do with an aversion to being told what to like. I guess I'm a little stubborn that way. I want to make up my own mind.

The blurb on the back of my DVD cover reads like this:
A painfully shy waitress working at a tiny Paris cafe, Amelie makes a surprising discovery and sees her life drastically changed for the better! From then on, Amelie dedicates herself to helping others find the most delightfully unexpected ways! But will she have the courage to do for herself what she has done for others?

My new DVD set has bonus features including several interviews with the writer/director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He indicates that much of the story is autobiographical. The fish in the story was his little fish. The scrapbook was actually the creation of a friend (although the one in the movie was a re-creation). At least to some extent, he is Amelie. Her story was intricately woven with strands from life as he has lived it and as he has imagined it to be. And, eccentric as it seems, it's a life I can relate to.

I guess that's what it boils down to most of the time. We like a movie that we can relate to in one way or another. Either we identify with elements in the story that remind us of ourselves or we are drawn to something that is different and intriguing. For me, Amelie offers both. There are emotions and motivations represented in the film that I am intimately acquainted with. And there is an attention to detail and honesty and humor that I really admire. When Amelie struggles, I think...I know that struggle. When she indulges in one of her secret delights, I think...that looks like fun!
Bottom line, to me, Amelie is like a little butterfly nestled safely in her warm cocoon. It's lonely and uncomfortable at times, but it's also familiar and secure. When she finds the tin box, it's as if she catches a glimpse of the outside world with all its possibilities. And she has to choose whether to hunker down where it's safe or learn to fly.

So...what are your impressions of this film? Was it your cup of tea...or a little too sweet for your taste? Did you see yourself somewhere within the frames or did you ask...what were they thinking? Either way, I'd love to chat with you about it, so tell me what you think!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


I'm still waiting for my (long ago ordered) copy of Amelie to come in. It's been a couple of years since I've seen it and I want the story to be a little fresher in my mind before I dive headlong into a discussion. So, that does two things...

It gives anyone who might be inclined to comment on films previously discussed more time to do so. And I'm sure there are multitudes just waiting for that news! (yeah, that was a joke). There is, by the way, no timeline for these discussions. I am thrilled to chat about any film at any point, regardless of how much has already been said about it. The addition of another movie doesn't have to mean that the discussion of the previous one is closed!

The second thing that this little intermission provides is an opportunity to interject another movie lover's objective commentary on the legendary classic...Star Wars. I really enjoyed this...I hope you will too!

Star Wars according to a 3 year old

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Another Feast for the Soul?

Antwone Fisher
Starring: Denzel Washington and Derek Luke.
Directed By: Denzel Washington.
Running Time: 120 Min., Color.
Copyright 2003 Twentieth Century Fox.
Rated: PG-13

After focusing on Babette’s Feast, a film like Antwone Fisher may not seem to be an obvious choice for discussion. Is it yet another feast for the soul?

I think it is, actually—at least in its own way.

I have to admit, I wasn’t planning to discuss this movie at exactly this point. But I happened to see it over the weekend and caught the very beginning, which I’d missed the first time around. The opening scene depicts a table obviously set for an amazing feast, a feast that is a recurring theme later in the film. The connection, though a loose one, seemed worth mentioning here.

There is definitely more to this film than just a vague similarity to another movie. Based on a true story, it carries a powerful message of healing and triumph of the heart. But that element of a feast and its significance for the main character is something I find extremely interesting and meaningful. It's something I'd like to talk more about.

If you haven't seen this film, I hope you'll give it a try. And I hope you'll come back and share your thoughts. It's definitely a story worth discussing!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Feast for the Soul

Babette's Feast

I just finished viewing Babette’s Feast for the first time in seventeen years and, I have to say, it was everything that I remembered—and more. Though it was released in 1987, I didn’t see it until a few years later when I wandered into the foreign film section of my local video store. I rented it by chance, having not an inkling of the sumptuous feast that my heart was about to attend.

On the most basic level, this is a story of an artist who won’t be beaten. In spite of her austere circumstances, her creative spirit refuses to wane. On another level, the story paints a portrait of servanthood and sacrifice and the difference that one person can make as their life is woven into the fabric of the lives around them. Delving even deeper is a striking image of Provision, Abundance, and Grace that simultaneously humbles and inspires.

There is a difference between eating and feasting. There is a difference between a banquet and a meal. Like an exquisitely set table, Babette’s Feast is an extraordinary profusion of flavors which awaken the soul and whet its appetite for more.

Don't be shy! Share your thoughts/impressions! I've been waiting 17 years to discuss this completely delicious film!

Monday, January 14, 2008

What is it about this story?

Pride and Prejudice Mosaic

The other night I was talking to a friend about Pride and Prejudice. We're both fans and agreed that we favor the Colin Firth/Jennifer Ehle version above all others. I am simply amazed by the number of adaptations that have been done and those are just the ones that I have seen. Perhaps there are others yet to be discovered! What a thought!

There is no question; something about this story takes up residence in the heart and signs a long-term lease. But, what is it exactly? Is it just the happy ending? The period in history? The language carefully spoken with elegance and reserve?

I do admire Elizabeth's wit, intelligence, and courage. And I do admire Jane's beauty, patience and grace. But is that really enough to keep me coming back to the same story after all these years? I just don't think so.

I've been pondering this and, while there are definitely details of the film that I find intriguing and/or endearing, I'm fairly certain I've pinpointed the thing that is so irresistible to me. It is the moment when Mr. Darcy realizes that Elizabeth sees him as he really is. The expression on his face, the inaudible sigh that seems to well up from depths unseen, both are the result of being known...finally known...without further fear of disapproval or misunderstanding.

I think that is what keeps me coming back to this film. I know it's just a story, but it is a story I'd like to believe. Not the details, of course, but the promise. I guess it is with a measure of hope that I imagine this moment of reel life might be found in real life as well.