My Mega Movie Weekend

I had the rare occasion of being completely off of work this past weekend, a rare occurrence in the church ministry world.  Coincidentally, the annual Florida Film Festival was in full swing, filling out the Enzian (local independent art house cinema) and the local Regal Cinemas with independent films, documentary, short films and animated films.  I positively gorged on films this weekend, watching While We’re Young, When Marnie Was There, The Sound of Music and Kumiko the Treasure Hunter (yup, a total of 4 movies) all within a 24-hour period.

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While We’re Young

Having only ever seen one other film written and directed by Noah Baumbach (the painfully awkward yet irresistible Frances Ha), I remembered his unique and uncanny portrayal of the 20something psyche, with all of its messy, restless and impulsive exuberance.  While We’re Young stars Ben Stiller and Naomi Watts as a 40something married couple whose creative and digital world collide with the 20something analog hipster couple, played by Adam Driver and Amanda Seyfried.  This is a funny, surprisingly thought-provoking film that captures that strange feeling of being between worlds of young and old, kids and no kids, success and failure, reality and contrivance.  I’m a 30something, so I felt caught up in this drama in-between the worlds of this 40something couple and these 20somethings who unapologetically embrace every hipster cliche, including an egg-laying chicken living amid an extensive vinyl collection in their Brooklyn loft.  Everyone gives fantastic performances and now I’m just getting even more excited to see Adam Driver in Star Wars 7.

I’m so ready for Hipster Sith Lord.

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When Marnie Was There (by Studio Ghibli)

My husband always makes fun of me because I frequently doze off in Studio Ghibli movies (popular Japanese animation films distributed by Disney) not because I think they’re slow or boring in anyway; he simply often chooses to start watching them after midnight, at some ungodly hour that’s way past my bedtime.  It’s inevitable I’m going to fall asleep.  I’m proud to say I did not fall asleep in this one!  And I’m glad I didn’t.  This is another gorgeously animated film.  There are no spirit dragons or magical giant insects in this film, just a simple story of a young girl Anna, sent away to live in the countryside one summer.  She quickly finds intrigue with the mysterious mansion across the marsh from where she lives.  I won’t say too much more than that, but this reminded me of so many adventure and mystery stories I enjoyed as a child like the Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew or even Scooby Doo, but with so much more heart and depth, not to mention gorgeous animation.  Beautiful film.

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The Sound of Music

This film will always have a special place in my heart.  Not only did I grow up watching and loving this movie as a child, I spent the summer of 2003 in studying abroad in Salzburg, Austria (you can read about that in my Memoirs of a Non-Geisha in Salzburg Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3).  Salzburg was the original home of the Von Trapp family and where the film was shot on location.  It was magical to watch this movie on the big screen.  There were no surprises since I’ve seen this movie dozens of times, but I was struck again by the epic beauty of this film, having never seen it on a big screen.  The opening aerial views of the Austrian countryside were especially spectacular and it was exciting to zoom in and see the iconic shot of Julie Andrews spinning around on those Alps. Also, I don’t know if I’ve ever truly appreciated how handsome Christopher Plummer is as Captain Von Trapp but the big screen didn’t hurt that either!

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Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

At first I didn’t know what to think while watching this movie.  It turned out to be much different than I was expecting from the trailer for some reason.  Kumiko is a young woman living a purposeless existence in Tokyo in an office job she hates, working for a boss who treats her like dirt, and receiving nagging phone calls from her mom who constantly hounds her for not being married or having kids.  Kumiko becomes obsessed with her VHS copy of the movie Fargo, convinced that the briefcase of cash that Steve Buscemi buries in the movie is real.  The movie centers on Kumiko and her journey to America to find that buried treasure in America.  To be honest, I felt like some parts of the movie felt slow.  However, I find myself absolutely haunted (for lack of a better word) by this story, days after I initially saw it.  The film is gorgeously shot and actress Rinko Kikuchi in the titular role is incredible — She plays such a depressed and slightly unhinged character with deftness and even unexpected moments of perfect comedic timing at certain points and I laughed out loud throughout much of the film. I also felt deeply for her and her plight.  It’s part-adventure story, part fish-out-of-water/cross-cultural comedy, part magical realism vs. allegory.  This film played for me like a fine wine; the more I let the story, allegory and imagery percolate in my mind the more caught up, fascinated and intrigued I was by the story of Kumiko, which was apparently based on a real local urban legend in Minnesota.  Out of all of the movies I saw this weekend, this was by far my favorite.

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