April 10th, 2017

I did see a couple of films in the past few days, along with a few more documentaries on Netflix.
Buck is a documentary on a horse whisperer, who does not whip and break horses.  He was a consultant on the Robert Redford movie, and there is a good story about it too.   He had a hard life himself, and he has become a person who trains others on how to handle and ride their horses.   Worth a watch, especially for those who like horses.
Joe Cocker: Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a documentary about the singer and his times.  From exploding on the scene at Woodstock in 1969 to disappearing to a resurgence.  It is interesting as have been all the other music documentaries I have watched lately.  He died too young, as cancer took him, even though he abused his body with all sorts of alcohol and drugs.
In the theatre I saw Kong: Skull Island.   This is NOT another re-make of the classic King Kong.  No Faye Wray, no Empire State Building, no Beauty killing the beast.   Rather this is another take to build on the recent Godzilla film which takes WWII nuclear testing and it’s long term impact into account, all the while becoming a franchise for future Creature Feature Week films.   In the 70s I remember Godzilla and Mothra and Kong, and all manner of guys wrestling with costumes on, on top of railway sets.  They were cheesey and badly dubbed.  Expect more of these to come.  Here a decent cast (Samuel L Jackson, John Goodman, Brie Larson and Tom Hiddleston) are using newly launched satellites to find a hidden island before the Russians do.  They find Kong – larger and badder than previous versions, who reigns over this island where he protects the human population from these underworldly creatures (don’t ask).   They are lizard-like and very bad.  The good cast for the most part is wasted, Larson especially who just wanders around in a tank top.   The CGI at times is very impressive.  The battle scenes are frequent and quality.  This is mind candy and no redeeming value.   But it was still fun.
Finally after a long time, I found Departures at a local library on DVD.  This is on Alison’s Top 10 of All Time, so it had to be good.   As I have discussed before, movies are about expectations and hype.  They are also about what you bring to the film in your own personal experience.  Many great films like Tree of Life has you watch and experience and then fill in for yourself what it all MEANS.   Films you can watch time and again, let you interpret and you can see different things at different times.  This is a Japanese film about a young man seeking out a job after he loses his job as part of an orchestra.  He finds an ad in the paper and replies.  In Japan, unlike much of North America I think, there is a ritual performed where one hires a person to ‘prepare the body’ for the next life.  This involves washing, clothing the body and preparing it to look its best.  That’s what this young man begins to do.  He then has a journey of his own and he finds more meaning in this life and reconciles his past.  Hey, we all have pasts and we all have aspects of our lives we figure out.   As I watched I found myself spending my time wondering where this spoke to Alison, why the impact, and what did she take away from it?   Her life was different than mine.  For me, I come from a place where funerals and death are dealt with quietly and without fanfare.  We are cremated and don’t take up any more space.  Quietly.  To me, a body is an empty vessel, a carcass where the light has left.  The ceremony performed was for the living and not the dead.  At the same time I did not understand the Japanese stigma surrounding this work.  Someone must do it.  Yet those who do are told to find more honourable work.  The young man faces such pushback.   I do not understand.  Much like the Indian culture that didn’t want to talk acknowledge nor talk about sex (yet seek out on video personality and porn star Sunny Leone online), here the Japanese who are so very proper and cultured don’t want to address this very personal and valued service.   So while I enjoyed it, I would not have this as part of a Top 10 of All Time.   Tree of Life?  Yes!  One I need to put there.  But I appreciate having seen this finally.
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