We watched The Swimmers on Netflix a few night’s ago, and enjoyed it - even if the delayed review suggests otherwise. A true story, about two sisters who were coached as swimmers by their father. One in particular was driven to swim in the Olympics representing her country, Syria. Based on a true story, it shows the challenges and dangers that refugees go to, to escape their troubled countries in an attempt to live the life that has been denied them. Recommended. 🍿
I ticked another Studio Ghibli movie off my list last night, watching Howls Moving Castle. It isn’t my favourite Studio Ghibli movie so far, but as ever, I loved the animation and the detail in the images. 🍿
Of all the movies that I thought that I would watch again, This Is Where I Leave You was not one of them.
Looking for something easy going, we chose this movie, thinking that maybe it looked familiar? Indeed it was. Early on it was apparent that this was not a first viewing, but we still watched it through to the end.
It served its purpose. Easy to watch at the end of a tiring day, a simple if predictable story, and funny. 🍿
My wife and I have been watching Shrinking on Apple TV+, and thoroughly enjoying it. Funny, well written, and a good cast. Recommended. 🍿
Going by the reception that the movie Everything, Everywhere, All at Once has received, this might not be a popular post. On the flight over to England I watched the movie, and I did not enjoy it. Very good performances from Michelle Yeoh and Ke Huy Quan, but the movie itself I struggled to get through. I stuck with really because of its reception - perhaps I was missing something yet to come? 🍿
We went to the theatre to see Babylon last night. For me while the movie had its moments, I felt that it could have told its story in a shorter time and didn’t know when to end. Sitting here the morning after, I’ll be interested to see how it sits with me over time. 🍿
We watched Glass Onion this evening. It was OK, but I much preferred the original. 🍿
We watched Amsterdam last night and really enjoyed it. The film is based on the 1933 Business Plot in the United States which intended “to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and install Smedley Butler as dictator.” I had never heard of this episode before, and so I learned something new just in exploring the background story of the movie afterwards.
The film had a star studded cast, not in itself a guarantee of a good film, and required some concentration to follow the plot - maybe a cause for a what appears to be a lukewarm reception that the movie has received? However, I felt that it was well acted, funny in places, and cleverly filmed. 🍿
We watched Triangle of Sadness last night. Too long, I thought, and trying too hard. I really didn’t enjoy the film. 🍿
And while I am speaking of what we watched last night, a week or so ago we also watched Sydney, about the life of Sydney Poitier. I knew next to nothing about him and found the documentary fascinating. Filmed before Poitier died earlier this year, one is treated to his lovely voice narrating his own story. 🍿
We watched Official Competition last night. An art house film and comedy. Very well acted by the small cast. I just wish that I spoke Spanish so that I didn’t have to rely on the subtitles. 🍿
We watched Raymond & Ray last night. A quirky movie about two brothers, played by Ethan Hawke & Ewan McGregor, coming together at the time of their father’s funeral. I enjoyed it even if I struggled with McGregor’s US accent. 🍿
We watched Causeway last night. Compelling just for the performances of Jennifer Lawrence and Brian Tyree Henry. 🍿
We watched Petite Maman a couple of nights ago. I’d describe it as magical. A meditation on grief. Through leveling the playing field, I won’t say more, it becomes an exploration of children trying to understand their elders, and parents, their children. Gently paced. A gem. 🍿
Kundun, or The Presence, is one of the names that the Tibetans use for His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
In 1997 Martin Scorsese directed the movie Kundun, a biographical story of the current Dalai Lama written by Melissa Mathison. I remember going to see the film a number of times when it came out. I picked up a copy of the soundtrack, composed by Philip Glass, and listened to it regularly. I also bought the movie on CD when that came out. The film kept drawing me back to, moving me in ways that stirred deeply in me.
While the movie is historically accurate, it is unlike any biographical story that I am aware of. The cast is made up of unknowns. The film does not appear to aspire to high dramatic art. Instead it becomes a visual and, dare I say, devotional piece, drawing the viewer into the tragic story of Tibet and how the young Dalai Lama takes on and manages the disaster happening around him alongside the weight of expectation from the Tibetan people.
For me the connection with the film came out of my connection with Tibet and the movie’s presentation of the Tibetan Buddhist faith, both in the iconography used, but also and probably more so, in the recitation of Buddhist texts which are sprinkled throughout the film. This is especially so in the final scene where the Dalai Lama is escaping from Tibet. The visuals of the flight are over dubbed with His Holiness reciting verses of Aspirational Bodhicitta. Bodhicitta, or the “mind of awakening”, is sometimes referred to as the seed of liberation. It is also described as an extraordinary mind, as it is a mind whose sole concern is the welfare of all other sentient beings.
Former film critic Robert Ebert said of the movie,
There is rarely the sense that a living, breathing and (dare I say?) fallible human inhabits the body of the Dalai Lama. Unlike Scorsese’s portrait of Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ, this is not a man striving for perfection, but perfection in the shape of a man. … Once we understand that Kundun will not be a drama involving a plausible human character, we are freed to see the film as it is: an act of devotion, an act even of spiritual desperation, flung into the eyes of 20th century materialism. The film’s visuals and music are rich and inspiring, and like a mass by Bach or a Renaissance church painting, it exists as an aid to worship: It wants to enhance, not question.1
Those words, “we are freed to see the film as it is: an act of devotion…The film’s visuals and music are rich and inspiring, and like a mass by Bach or a Renaissance church painting, it exists as an aid to worship: It wants to enhance, not question.", say better what my bumbling words have been trying to express.
Watching Kundun last night many years after my last viewing in no way diminished that feeling for me. Indeed the film brought it all back for me. Last night will not be my last viewing, I’m sure, and I feel grateful for what Scorsese has created. 🍿
Kundun on Wikipedia ↩︎
Just a few years after the movies release(1989!), I finally got round to watching Dead Poets Society and enjoyed it very much. What a lovely man Robin Williams was, and such a loss in his passing. 🍿
We watched the movie Language Lessons on HBO Max last night. Very different. Very “of the times”. Like a series of Zoom calls. Well acted, it held me. I recommend it. 🍿
We watched The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021) this evening. I knew nothing about the Tammy Faye & Jim Baker story, but thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Jessica Chastain’s performance as Tammy Faye was superb. 🍿
I watched Licorice Pizza last night and enjoyed it. Maybe dragged a little in the middle? I’ve been listening to the soundtrack today, a rewind to the early 70s. 🍿
We recently watched Operation Mincemeat on Netflix, the movie of the story that I linked to in this post. I enjoy films that cover aspects of history from the Second World War, and this one did not disappoint. 🍿
We recently saw Waterman, a documentary about Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, or “Duke” as he was affectionately known, Olympic gold medalist, world record holder and surfer. I had known about Duke for a long time, but did not know his story. This documentary does a good job of showing who the man was, the background against which he grew up as he left his mark on the world, and the love he had for Hawai’i and the people of these islands. Highly recommended. 🍿
We finally got round to watching CODA last night, and both enjoyed it very much. A feel good movie, but with some beautiful touches enabled by the movie’s subject matter. It took me into a world that I know nothing about. Well worth the praise and honours that it has received. 🍿
The timing and professionalism of this piece of presenting. While I can’t remember this particular shot, I do remember growing up watching James Burke on British television. His skill was in making science subjects accessible to the ordinary person. I’m sure that he played no small part in my interest in science.
Then in the closing seconds of the piece he drops the quiet reminder of the potentiality of such powerful technology for, on the one hand human advancement, and on the other human destruction.
I watched Windfall on Netflix last night. A thriller based around the story of a man who breaks into the holiday home of a tech billionaire and his wife when they are not there, and then they show up. I was disappointed by it. I couldn’t always believe the characters, some plot lines felt thin and the ending for me didn’t fit in with what came before. I was looking forward to the film, but woke up this morning still with a taste of dissatisfaction in my mouth. 🍿
We were on babysitting duty last night with the grandkids and watched Sing 2 with them. To be honest I had low expectations for the movie, but ended up really enjoying it. Even if it’s trajectory was predictable, there were some fun characters, a funny script and good music. 🍿