This week's Netflix picks are:
What is the measure of a soul? 21 Grams is a movie that deals with that question, in a really round about way. There are three main characters (Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, and Benecio Del Toro) who are living and dying (both physically and emotionally) throughout the movie. The plot revolves around how these characters come together and pull apart, and ultimately how they destroy each other. Individual scenes are riveting, but the movie as a whole is a hard view, because the stories are so depressing and the editing is convoluted. Sometimes this style of movie making works, but sometimes it just makes the movie difficult to understand. Why the director decided on such a disynchronous telling of such a compelling story, is beyond me. Although the movie makes sense by the end, it is a wrenching experience to get to the end of the film.
Logan's Run , one of my favorite Sci-fi movies from the 1970's, stars Michael York, Richard Jordan, Jenny Agutter, Peter Ustinov, and even Farrah Fawcett has a small part. I was surprised by how much of this film I had forgotten. The story is a little hokey, but I really enjoyed seeing it again, especially Peter Ustinov's character. He did a lot with the screen time, and it is clear why he was such an acclaimed actor. The costuming was classic 1970's jiggle-vision. The director's vision of the year 2274 includes braless women in toga-like outfits made of Qiana and the men wore their clingy Qiana outfits in a style that brings to mind Robin Hood. Logan’s Run tells the story of a futuristic Utopia that is created in a domed city that is built after some unnamed disaster makes it impossible for the people to live in the open. Because the people live in a dome, the population must be controlled, so anyone over the age of 30 must die. The plot borrows from A Brave New World, Lost Horizon, and 1984, but the film is still interesting and a fun watch.
Control Room is a documentary that delves into the responsibility of the media in the context of politics and war. The film makers focus on the Arab news agency, Al Jazeera and it compares and contrasts the perspective of the Al Jazeera staff with that of American journalists and it also uses some footage of Rumsfeld accusing Al Jazeera of being deceptive in their coverage of the war, which given the deception that Rumsfeld perpetrated on the American people to get the war started is supremely rich.
All of the Al Jazeera correspondents and producers come across intelligent and interesting, but I think the Sudanese journalist, Hassan Ibrahim, was the most fascinating because of his ironic take on the situation. He repeatedly says that he has faith in the American Constitution and the American people to do the right thing, which made me a little ashamed, because I have lost much of my faith in the Constitution and in the American people when it comes to doing what is right and just. Ibrahim also has an infectious sense of humor (or maybe it's a sense of irony) that make his exchanges with Lieutenant Josh Rushing (the U.S. Army Central Command Press Officer) humorous as well as enlightening. Seeing the two men express opposing views of the war in an intelligent and logical debate has a profound impact. Their ability to try to see things from each other's point of view makes me believe that an administration with a greater emphasis on diplomacy might have been able to achieve an outcome that would have avoided the deaths of so many of our young men.