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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Three decent movies. None of them must-sees, but you can't go too wrong with them

The Bourne Legacy
One blogger is in the minority here, but after trying the first Bourne book and all three original movies, she wasn’t that impressed. There would be a lot of boring, mildly technical talking, and then they would catch up with Bourne for a few minutes, there would be a cool fight, and then it would be slow again. They were also needlessly complicated. For fun action movies, they really required you to have a brain. Guess what? Most people don’t. When we watch something like The Bourne Identity, we want to be entertained, not to have to think as if we were reading a book. They are technically “good” movies that underwhelm this blogger. Surely ardent fans and lovers of the genre will disagree. The Bourne Legacy is not as good or realistic as its predecessors, but it’s a heck of a lot more fun. Rachel Weiss is a better heroine than those of the franchise’s past as well. She's the appropriate age for her character, and her acting is good. Jeremy Renner is no Matt Damon, but he’s fine and believable as a man of action. We've liked him since The Hurt Locker. The pace is swifter than the last three movies. It would be cool if the franchise could get Damon back and make him team up with Renner’s Aaron. If you’re hanging out with a group of people and want to see a crowd pleaser, we can assure you that you won’t regret going to this one. It’s not a complete waste of time. Our whole group left happy and without complaint.
Movie grade: B

Blue Like Jazz
Let’s face it: Christian movies suck. Courageous made this blogger want to convert to something else. Don't even get us started on The Ultimate Gift, a movie with a stellar premise completely ripped off of Jewish stories. Blue Like Jazz didn’t suck quite as hard because it benefits from both honesty and the fact that it’s a comedy, not a heartfelt, moralizing drama. It’s a coming of age story about Don Miller, a freshman fed up with the hypocrisy of his Christian mother, church, and Texas community. He resolves to start fresh at a very secular party school for the intellectual elite. At first, all he cares about is fitting in. Later, he comes to terms with his own faith, learns to forgive, and rejects the pride that led him to look down on people of faith who “make him look bad.” Plotwise, there are better common of age stories and it’s not that original, nor is it eventful. As a meandering comedy about hipster life on a Portland campus, it works, even if it’s uneven in tone. Parts of the script fall super flat, like one of the lines in the confession booth scene and when the lesbian character tells the main character to stay in the closet about his Christianity. No atheist actually says that to a Christian. 

We enjoyed seeing Rebekah from The Vampire Diaries and Alex from LOST. The movie’s greatest strength is its wonderful treatment of homosexual characters and openness about issues of faith. It directly addresses topics prevalent in the world at large, but almost completely ignored by movies, while managing to stay away from offending nearly every possible person who could ever sit down to watch it. Good taste and manners are on display. We didn’t like the actor in the main role, but he didn’t ruin it. The character was hard to like, and it would take a charismatic, cute, self-effacing kid to pull it off and still charm us. This guy wasn't it. Still, the movie wasn’t cheesy or preachy, making it one of the better Christian movies out there. It could have been a lot better, but from what we’ve seen about movies made by Christians, it could have been a whole lot worse. If you like the movie, check out the book Blue Like Jazz, as well as books by Phillip Yancey and Rob Bell. Regarding Bell, if you’re a Christian, don’t start with Love Wins. You might shut out helpful things Bell has to say if you go right for his most controversial book. 
Movie grade: B-

This is an old one that we finally saw, and it’s another coming of age story. It's about a weird high schooler (Jason Schwartzman) who loves school and being involved, but isn’t academically gifted. He’s a real go-getter, but he’s weird. In a lot of ways, he’s a genius. In even more ways, he’s a mess. When he falls in love with a teacher at his school (Olivia Williams) and makes friends with a local millionaire (Bill Murray), things get funny. This comedy is strange, existentialist, and cult-y, in a good way, so the fact that Wes Anderson directed it shouldn’t surprise you. It’s one of his best. Whether you like it will come down to personal taste, but for what it is, it’s quality. The movie maybe overstays its welcome, time-wise, but that doesn’t ruin it. This is the only time we’ve ever liked Jason Schwartzman. If you look closely, you will see Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls) as a random student. God, was she ever not pretty? One of the best things about this movie is its soundtrack, which uses classic rock to foreshadow, set the tone, keep the pacing steady without sacrificing the quirky humor, and keep things smart. We also liked the ending and the Scottish kid. It’s not your usual comedy.
Movie grade: B+

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