Reviews: 2 Movies, 1 Reggae Concert

Monday, February 21, 2005

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

On the recommendations of Raymund and several others, my wife and I rented Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind this weekend. I pretty well agree with Raymund's assessment, and will add that the movie is very suspenseful. My major complaint with it is that Clementine (Kate Winslet) is such a flaky moonbat that Joel Barish's (Jim Carrey) fight for her fails to make sense on some levels. (To explain this any further would spoil the plot.) One could counter that this flakiness was integral to the plot, though, and subsequent characterization almost overcomes this objection. (Which is likely my taste in sane women asserting itself....) Be that as it may, take Raymund's advice: "Go rent it already." Great SF that is the best of a line of Jim Carrey movies that I've privately christened the "universe revolves around Jim Carrey genre" (Think The Truman Show, The Majestic, and Bruce Almighty.), but with a twist. Rating: A-.


Friday, the wife and I did a "half-date" night. With me toiling away in the lab till all hours and her working on her dissertation, we're sometimes lucky to get in a nice dinner. This we did, and then went home late to watch the movie Radio. I think I recall it being recommended to us, but I don't know by whom. The plotline for the movie can be found here, and the "consensus line" seems about right to me for what most would think of the movie: "The story is heavy on syrupy uplift and turns Radio into a saint/cuddly pet."

While I'm not wild about the movie either, I have a slightly different take. As a depiction of real-life events, I see the movie as a chronicle of the triumph of a man's goodwill over great odds to improve the life of a handicapped boy. On the other hand, the movie tends to minimize the very legitimate fears of some of the parents about the boy being allowed in the small-town high school. (At one point, a television screen with an episode of All in the Family, Archie Bunker in full bigot mode, is there to helpfully suggest what we are to think of such concerns.) Aside from that annoyance, the movie does not veer as far into the realm of the syrupy as I expected. In fact, at one point, the coach who befriends the boy explains why he did so, and it actually makes sense. The storytelling was pretty good. Rating: B-.


On a lark, Raymund and I went Sunday to see "Hasidic Reggae superstar" (as the concert flyer billed him) Matisyahu. When he first told me about the performance, I'll admit that I laughed. Reggae has certainly gained a worldwide following, but this was a twist I'd never imagined, even with the help of the song "Reggae Bandwagon". This was right up there with an account I once read of Fats Waller making a jazz recording with a bagpipe player on a trip to Scotland. (Alas! That seems to have been lost to history.) In other words, this was such a bizarre combination I wanted to see if it could be done at all. The music was not bad, though there was a marked tendency by the band to slip into rock-and-roll that I didn't much care for. I unfortunately know next to nothing of Jewish culture. As a result, while I was under the impression that Matisyahu was sometimes attempting to blend traditional Jewish song with Reggae, I was really in no position to judge how well he did that tradition justice. In the main, the music was enjoyable, but inconsistently so.

-- CAV


12-7-05: Added hypertext anchors.

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