Watching movies, 2009

I don't watch many current movies, so I don't really have anything to say as the news is full of discussions of the best of 2009.  I have been thinking, however, about the best and worst of the movies I've watched on TV over the last year.

Most enjoyable movie:  Kill Bill (vols 1 and 2).  Synopsis:  Kung Fu master falls in love with a woman who ultimately breaks his heart.

The movie is also about who we are and who we appear to be, and the myth of identity.  As Bill says,

Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S", that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears – the glasses, the business suit – that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent. He's weak… he's unsure of himself… he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.

That quote is the movie.

Most beaten to death good idea:  Matrix Revolutions (a.k.a, Matrix III).

The Matrix had a good story idea:  Our life is an illusion and we're tools of a vast computer system. In the first Matrix film, Morpheus says,

The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth

The special effects were really cool.  Then came Matrix II and Matrix III.  Fewer ideas, more action, more exposition.  And, in the end, there were only two possible reactions: WTF and Who Cares.

A movie I'd like to live in:  The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

I'm way behind the curve on Wes Anderson. I'd seen The Royal Tannenbaums a few years ago, but it didn't click at the time.  Over the last year, I've really started paying attention to Anderson (as is my TiVo).  The Life Aquatic is a wonderfully wistful, whimsical movie with a wonderfully wistful, whimsical performance by Bill Murray.  The jokes are low key and aim for amusement rather than big laughs.

Supposedly Cousteau and his cronies invented the idea of putting walkie-talkies into the helmet. But we made ours with a special rabbit ear on the top so we could pipe in some music.

At the end of the movie, I felt content and happy.