Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Groovin' to the Oldies

Tom was in Houston this weekend so the girls and I took the opportunity to have our own Numb-Butt-A-Thon (a la Ain't It Cool). Hey, its Texas in late July ... we're gonna stay inside anyway. Surprisingly, everything we chose to try was old. I'm assuming most everyone knows the premise for all these; if not, check the link for a basic description.

Watching "groovy Jesus" in The Gospel of John, made me think of "Godspell", the original groovy Jesus movie. I saw part of this musical based on the Gospel of Matthew when I was in high school on late night TV and figured it probably didn't age well with the "flower children" disciples and music dating it beyond belief. Then the girls discovered that Jesus was portrayed by Victor Garber, the much admired "coolest old guy on TV" as Jack Bristow in Alias. Now we had to see it. I figured that it only would take half an hour before they gave up were laughing hysterically and quit watching. Not so. We watched it twice because we all liked it so much.

It is dated, but when you get past that to the basic show, "Godspell" is a wonderful entertainment. First, and most often mentioned by everyone, is the amazing location photography. You have to see it to appreciate it. Next is the music which is really good, a little 70's musical style but that's no big deal. Best of all was the joyfulness and exuberance which gets lost in way too many religious movies. Young Victor Garber showed that he was a great actor even 30 years ago. The second viewing made it easier to get "Jack Bristow" out of our heads, although Rose delighted in pointing out the same sensitive expressions she's seen on Alias ("Sydney, I'm sorry about involving you in Project Christmas. I was trying to protect you..."). This was the surprise movie favorite of the weekend.

I like Tim Burton's movies but never was interested in seeing this one. I really had a hard time watching it because I was filled with such pity for Edward the entire time. Not only was he stuck with those scissorhands but it was all too clear where the story was going. The story was really one dimensional with a sad ending that did nothing to redeem it ... and no one really learned much. Oh, Edward and Kim both learned what it is to love and lose but it was handled so superficially that there seemed to be no point to it. Rose liked it better than I did but agreed it seemed unredeemably sad.

It was interesting to watch as an early Tim Burton movie, though. I could see elements that he used in Beetlejuice, The Nightmare Before Christmas, and Big Fish. Any of those movies were better and more complete than this one, though. Johnny Depp was excellent, as were the rest of the cast, but that wasn't any surprise. Certainly it was not worth the agony that it was for me to sit through this movie.

I always heard this was a great series but we don't have cable (yes, our house is in the Stone Ages). We rented the first two DVD's from the first season and set out to see if Nikita can hold a candle to Alias' Sydney Bristow. Pffft! Of course not!

However, "La Femme Nikita" does have a charm of its own. It is much more of a "typical" TV show with each plot ending within each show however it shows a little more reality than Alias. I liked the fact that Nikita had a run in her stocking halfway through her first shootout ... that her hand shook so much on her first few times to try to kill someone ... that her across the hall neighbor is astute enough to notice that Nikita has to take off each time she answers the phone. Also, the level of angst is handled a little more quietly, with Nikita having wet eyes rather than being as dramatic as Sydney over her problems. I was relieved to see that, although it was created for cable, there wasn't an extreme level or sex or violence. In fact, it was tamer than many regular network thrillers. We also kept reminding each other that this series is from 1997 and probably influenced Alias creator J.J. Abrams. We liked it enough to watch 6 in a row (numb butts for sure!) and definitely will keep renting and watching Nikita's adventures.

Actually, we watched "The Magnificent Seven" a couple of weeks ago so we rented "The Seven Samurai" to see how close the two movies were to each other. Unfortunately, the DVD was so scratched that we didn't get very far into it before it would freeze up. So we will watch it another weekend when Tom can see it with us. However, just a word about "The Magnificent Seven". I had forgotten what a really great, classic movie this is. Westerns just don't get much better than this. How can you not love watching something that has the Magnificent Four in it? Of course, I'm talking about Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, and James Coburn. Oh, right, there were other magnificent actors but that's not the kind of magnificence I'm talking about ...

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