Saturday, July 19, 2008

From Independence to Oppression to Individual Spirit

My last blog entry recommended some patriotic fare to help you celebrate our nations’ independence. This entry will take different point of view and recommends a film about oppression but also about spirit of the individual. Winner of the Jury Prize from the 2007 Cannes Film Festival (and a nominee for the Palme d’Or), Persepolis has just been released on DVD and is available from the HBPL Media department. Persepolis is based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. This animated film begins in Iran in 1979. Ten year old Marji dreams of becoming a prophet and loves to emulate Bruce Lee. Marji’s family is hopeful when the Shah is overthrown. They think that they will get a more just society but instead what they get is Islamic Fundamentalism. Marji, a rebellious teen, buys western heavy metal music on the black market and wears a denim jacket celebrating punk rock with a Michael Jackson button. Worried that she will be arrested, she is sent to Vienna to go to school. What follows is Marji’s coming of age story and a tale that shows that sometimes you can’t go home again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Spirit of ‘76

This Friday is Independence Day aka the 4th of July. Most of you will probably be having a three day weekend as the 4th has considerately landed on a Friday. Due to our growing gas prices, many are deciding to take stay-cations (stay at home vacations) instead of leaving town. Now, you know what my recommendation will be to fill those long summer hours. Watch a movie!!! (or two or three!). Here are a few of my favorite films that I watch to lift my American spirit:

1776: This movie version of the Broadway musical depicts the events leading up to the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and our nation’s first 4th of July. Many of the song lyrics and parts of the dialog are based on actual correspondence of the time. American history has never been so much fun (Sit down, John!). (DVD)

Yankee Doodle Dandy: James Cagney portrays the legendary Broadway songwriter and performer George M. Cohan in this rousing, flag-waving classic. It is hard to remember Cagney’s gangster roles when you see him singing and tap dancing. But his gangster roles didn’t win him his first Academy Award, singing and dancing did (Cagney won a Best Actor Oscar for his role in this film). (VHS)

Glory: During the Civil War, Robert Gould Shaw (Matthew Broderick) led the first all-black volunteer company. Glory is more about the struggle for individual dignity than it is about the mechanics of war. This film is a winner of five Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Denzel Washington. (DVD)

Independence Day: What could be more appropriate on Independence Day then, well, you know. Oddly enough, when I first saw this film, I didn’t really like it. Even odder might be the fact that although I didn’t like it, I kept watching it whenever it happened to be on television. I guess it grew on me. Will Smith, Presidential Bill Pullman and aliens. All you need to help celebrate our independence! (DVD)

Have a safe and sane 4th of July!!