Miscellaneous Blog Posts

Recently watched movies

I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently on rental DVDs. Making bike movies is part of my job so I want to learn from other movies out there, while I also simply love movies. Sort of for the record for myself, I’ll talk about a few of the movies I recently watched, centering on famous ones this time around.

Big Wednesday

This is an old movie from 1978, about the sport of surfing, passion of young surfers, and the swell of society and Vietnam War that shake their destiny. This is, in short, a great movie to watch multiple times. I can barely surf, but my bike riding background seems to help me sympathize. In the similar vein “Lords of Dogtown” was good too, but it is safe to say that this movie, made a quarter century earlier, became the prototype of the Dogtown film.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

I’m sure a lot of people have watched this, but I’m not ashamed to admit I like this mainstream film. Unfortunately though, I feel the key point of this movie is overlooked in Japan. In my opinion, the Japanese title should rather have been like “Mr. & Mrs. Tanaka”. Many people seem to think the big action is what this movie sells for, but it is in a way all metaphoric dramatization of what goes on between regular couples. Thus, this story is an allegory about what may happen to any couple, like secrets, competition of pride, confrontation, and trust, all depicted in an extremely colorful way. I started to enjoy this film far more when I came up with this. Similar things can be said about “Fight Club”, where the bottom line is that there are this herbivorous me and carnivorous him in any man. Brad Pitt is pretty good at acting such secretly complicated characters while pretending to be stupidly simple.

Blood Diamond

This one was the most shocking film with serious messages out of what I watched recently. The story of diamond concession in Africa, push from Western corporate greed, political conflicts and ethnic problems has really opened my eyes. Though I don’t recommend taking the viewpoint presented in this movie as the absolutely objective one, I’d recommend this movie to anybody. Personally I was impressed by the tragic fate of Danny, the main character. He comes from Rhodesia, which I later studied to find out to be a lost country which used to be located adjacent to the Republic of South Africa, with a similar social structure that is governance by the minority whites. He, however, lost his family at the time of the collapse of his country, then got picked up by the South African army and all, but had to keep wandering in Africa as a minority white with a broken castle in his heart that one may call his homeland and identity. I think Leonardo DiCaprio acted this really well. The name of the country of Rhodesia, by the way, came from Cecil Rhodes, the very guy who made a huge fortune from diamonds, as a founder of De Beers who controlled 90% of the diamond traffic in the world.

Gran Torino

From the beginning to some point on, I thought this story was just like “Unforgiven”, although it ended differently and it was a good thing. I’d give “average” for this one, but the aftertaste was very strong. Ford Gran Torino is a cool car, but in case you were curious because of the car, don’t watch it. It’s a human drama. As Clint Eastwood reportedly mentioned focusing on directing movies after this, this is one to watch if you love to see him act. I also watched “Changeling” directed by him, and it was surprisingly great, partly thanks to the intense acting from Angelina Jolie. Watching his recent movies, I come to realize that justice, the one thing he seems to have chased for in his long career, has widened and thickened quite a bit. If you are interested in a story of old man opening up, though not to do with Clint, I strongly recommend “Harry and Tonto”. It’s old but I like it, and it features a cute cat.