As It Should Be

The Hannah Montana movie will be filmed in Tennessee.

If you don’t have a tween, especially a girl tween, you may have no idea how big a deal this is.  A celebrity just can’t get any hotter than Miley Cyrus is right now.  Is she primed for overexposure?  With adults, yes, but there’s no such thing with 9-12 year olds.

Her Dad used to live not two miles from my mom and dad’s old place.  I wonder if he still owns that Sneed Road property?  Maybe they can do some filming there.  Paging Sista?

Will this mean there will be Brooke Shields sightings in Nashville? 

Mark my words – if they film a concert sequence at the Opry, there might be riots over tickets.

Posted in Movies. 6 Comments »

About The Great Debaters (and a little about race)

We did get to see The Great Debaters on Saturday, and it was just as good as I thought it would be.   It was, at its heart, a formulaic sports movie (more on that in a minute), but its predictability was overcome by some incredible acting performances.  Denzel Washington’s direction was, I thought, very well paced, and he shrewdly allowed his character to fade somewhat as the movie went along, because Washington is so electric onscreen it takes away from other performances.

Even though it was based on true events, the movie very closely mirrored another underdog story, Hoosiers, even going so far as including a scene where the members of the small school team look in awe at the arena they’ll be fighting Goliath in.  (BTW, I’m pretty sure Sylvester Stallone invented this device, in Rocky).

The debate scenes (and there were few actual debate scenes), were true to life, and pretty much how I remember things, except in our public high school debate tournaments, we only had judges present when we debated.  The scenes when the debaters are researching before the big debate really rang true to me (especially arguments about approach).  It occurred to me on the way home that things have REALLY changed in respect to debate research since I last debated in 1982.  They have the internet now, and it changed everything.

As an aside, in Nashville, the part played by the Harvard debate team would be that of Montgomery Bell Academy’s team.  They have always been the gold standard.  I will never forget when my partner Darren and I had our own Rocky moment.  We defeated a team from MBA, and everyone in the room knew it.  The judge gave the round to MBA anyway, but we walked away knowing we had beaten the best, even though we didn’t get the first place ribbons.

It would have been nice if the Wiley college team would have been shown arguing the negative on an issue for which they really wanted to argue the affirmative.  This is the magic, and the greatest teaching tool, in debate.  You don’t get to choose which side you argue, and have to be ready to defend either side.  It really makes you seriously think about all arguments about an issue, and makes you a better advocate for the side in which you really believe.  It would do us all good to try it once in a while.  Could Aunt B write an argument for outlawing abortion that wasn’t a caricature?  Could Kat compose a compelling argument against the death penalty (or in favor of using PCs over Macs)?

Those who can only write compelling arguments for issues they are passionate about have an Achilles heel that can be exploited.  Debate makes you see the flaws in your own arguments, the strongest arguments of the other side, and makes your arguments that much stronger in the end. 

Of course, we had long discussions with our kids about the Jim Crow south, both before the movie, and afterward.  One thing really stood out to me as I heard their questions: their personal pronouns were all in the third person.

Let me take a step back.  In the US, and especially in the American south, discussions of race are always, always,always  implied to be about black and white.  This is perfectly natural of course, considering our history.  And, let’s face it, this isn’t San Fransisco.  As of the last census, Asians made up a little under 1% of Nashville’s population.  Asians are almost always an afterthought in these discussions.  I’m not saying they should be in the forefront, it’s just the way it is.

But it struck me as we spoke about these things: they haven’t picked a “side”.  There is no “we”, when they ask questions about race.  Did you have any idea the opportunity Lintilla and I have here?  There are no centuries-held hatreds, no generational grudges, no automatic racial defensiveness.  Based upon the questions they asked, and how they asked them, it is obvious that their views are not poisoned with the personal baggage that we whites and blacks carry (and lately, Hispanics). 

This is when I knew that our experiment in living our lives as cross-racially as possible without pointing out that doing so was any big deal, or even pointing out that we were doing it, is starting to pay off.  We will continue to do so, no matter how much criticism we receive for it.

 I do not discuss race directly on blogs anymore,  because I’m tired of people who do not know me questioning my motives, or claiming that their life experience should carry more weight than my own, simply because of the color of my skin.  There are too many people who live for the fight, then get angry when you do not give it to them.

It took a long time to retrain my mind, but now, every time I see an interracial couple, I smile.  It will not happen in my lifetime, but eventually there will be enough “inter” marrying and parenting, that one day the entire population of the United States will be a nice shade of light brown.

Then y’all are going to have to find something else to hate each other about.

Great Moments In Cinematic History

Update, we are going to go see The Great Debaters.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

In the meantime, how about one of the greatest scenes ever filmed?

Help! I’m Debating With Myself

I need your help, dear readers.  Have any of you seen “The Great Debaters” yet?  I’m very seriously considering taking my family to see it this weekend.  But the PG-13 rating scares me a little. 

As any parent knows, PG-13 is probably  the most useless movie rating there is.  The movie could be harmless, just above a PG in content, OR it could be 1 “F” word short of rated R.  There can be tense situations (which are OK), or very intense, but not graphic violence (which is NOT OK with us).

I usually depend on screenIt.com – it’s the greatest movie resource a parent could ask for.  They not only give artistic reviews, but also objectively lay out before you any material that might be offensive (even including depictions of smoking and drinking).  They literally count the various curse words and let you know how many of each – this helps greatly in determining where on the PG-13 spectrum a movie lies.

But, screenIt doesn’t have a review up right now and I want to go see it this weekend.  If any of you have seen it, could you tell me if you think it is appropriate for a 10 and 11 year old?  We mostly want to avoid intense violence (for instance, if the movie shows an actual lynching, that is too intense, if it is implied, that’s OK)  Intense violence will give my daughter nightmares for weeks.  Nudity and sex are out, not because we are prudes, but because our kids will disturb the theater by screaming out “EEEWWWW!”  We’d really rather avoid the “F” word.  (Back off –  these are not YOUR children).

And I guess finally, will a 10 and 11 year old be bored by it?  I tend not to think so, because Denzel Washington is never boring.

I REALLY want to see this movie, because I love Washington, and also for the nostalgia: I was on the debate team in high school.  Those were great memories.  And, of course, it’s an “important” movie, and I’m sure it would be a great teaching tool. 

But first,I want any of you who have seen it to let me know if it is (very intelligent and mature) kid-friendly. 

Posted in Movies. 1 Comment »

Great Movie

Last night, the kids didn’t want to hang around with us, they wanted to watch Disney’s Kim Possible marathon.  So, Lintilla and I decided to have an adult movie night.  Now, get your mind out of the gutter; for us, and “adult” movie is a rated R movie.  Normally we watch whatever the kids are allowed to watch.  So, we haven’t seen too many R rated movies the last few years.  Only every now and then do we close the door to the basement and watch “grown-up” movies.  (Although, I guess it sounds funnier to say “You can’t come in here because Mom and Dad are watching adult movies!”

Anyway, in my scouring the web looking for celebrity news for that other blog I do, I ran into a YouTube-posted trailer for the movie “Hot Fuzz“.  It looked like a pretty funny comedy, in a British dry humor kind of way.  I showed Lintilla the trailer, and we decided to watch it.

Boy, was I in for a surprise.

This was an extremely well done movie.  The producers did Quinton Tarantino better that Quinton Tarantino ever did.  It was stylistic, smart, and had a real “From Dusk Till Dawn” feel.  Helping everything along was the fact that the main context of the movie was the main character’s struggles with being an elite cop transferred to a quiet village, and the subsequent Barney Fife moments.  This, juxtaposed against the final third of the film, is brilliant.  Let’s just say the “feel” of the movie totally changes.  They’ve set you up for one of those moments where you can’t quite suspend your disbelief, but you don’t care – it’s just too cool.

Anyway, there’s the usual R rated language, and a good amount of over-the-top gore, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.  But “Hot Fuzz” was the best movie Lintilla and I have seen in years.

Posted in Movies. 7 Comments »

C’Mon, Admit It

When they seriously started talking about Michael Vick going to jail, didn’t this movie pop into your head?

“The most important thing to remember is: to protect your quarterback – ME! “

Movie Weekend

Considering the yardwork that still isn’t done, the preparations still ongoing for Thanksgiving, UT/Vandy, Titans on Sunday, and our 65% full DVR, you would think this would have been a horrible weekend to spend the greater part watching movies. But somehow, that’s how it worked out (maybe it was the weather). All in all, a very good weekeend.

Friday Night, Lintilla was having a girls night out with a good friend, and the kids talked me into going to Blockbuster. We decided on Click for Friday night. Let me tell you, Click is a perfect example of why I’m getting myself a ClearPlay for Christmas. Here was a movie that had a wonderful message, the kind of message you want to pass along to your kids, but also had boatloads of stuff you’d rather the kids NOT learn, like language. Objectionable stuff aside, Click is one of the best movies I’ve seen all year. The previews give you no idea that there are some pretty heavy tear-jerk moments in this film.

I got up early on Saturday, and I wasn’t in the mood for the weekend morning news with my coffee, so I checked out what was out there in OnDemand land. I have no premium channels, so it was Encore, or pay for it. Well, Encore had one of my all-time favorite movies, so I gave it a whirl just as Trillian was coming downstairs. She decided to join me instead of watching cartoons.

While You Were Sleeping is my all-time favorite “chick flick”. Trillian had never seen all of it, so she watched, too (loved it!). You see, Sleepless In Seattle seems too contrived (except for the part where they’re making fun of chick flicks) – AND I can’t stand Rosie O’Donnell. When I examine the kind of romantic movies I like, it seems I have a thing for “quirky” families. My favorites are Moonstruck, My Big, Fat Obnoxious Greek Wedding, strangely enough, Only the Lonely, and the best of them all, While You Were Sleeping. Sandra Bullock was adorable as Everygirl. Her love story with Bill Pullman was almost beside the point – she was saved from her loneliness by being taken in by this strange, wonderful family. Gets to me everytime.

Next on the list was the one we had been waiting for: Happy Feet. This movie did not disappoint. Everything about the film was stunning, especially the big dance numbers. The “Boogie Wonderland” scene alone is worth the price of admission. I WAS worried about the subplot of humans decimating the food supply with overfishing (could Al Gore be too far behind?), but this was neccessary and handled beautifully. From the POV of the penguins, the humans were not evil, they just didn’t know what their actions were causing. This prevented many “man is the root of all evil” conversations on the way home.

There was a little disappointment in the one scene I was looking forward to, the “Somebody to Love” number. I actually thought it was done better in Ella Enchanted. Something about it seemed empty and soulless. Perhaps it was Brittany Murphey’s voice, I don’t know. Maybe I just set my expectations too high. But it was still jaw-dropping.

The film borrowed quite a bit from other films (in a good way). I saw pieces of The Ten Commandments, Footloose, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Fame. Robin Williams, though reserved, was wonderful, as was Hugh Jackman’s Elvis-type character. All in all, I left the theater with, well, Happy Feet. Right-brained Trillian loved it. Left-brained Zaphod, not so much. You can’t please everybody, I guess.

Finally, Saturday night found us watching another Blockbuster rental, Nacho Libre. I was expecting another Napolean Dynamite, but I can’t tell you how bad this movie was. Awful. It was off the suckage scale. The plot was so simplistic it was boring, the only funny moments were slapstick. None of us liked it.

As a side note, we are all looking forward to Charlotte’s Web. We will probably also go see The Nativity Story.