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Darrell, you saw Andre Rublev! Michael, you saw Spy Kids3D!


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Ron wrote:

: : I'm just a little unsettled by the possibility that beauty, faithful or

: : otherwise, is little more than a self-serving distraction from the brutality

: : and not something deeper.

:

: His icon making, presumably, gave him respite from the horrors around

: him. "Little more than self-serving"? - hardly, if it also leaves a legacy in

: which centuries of other Christians find further respite, blessing, transcendence.

So it's not "self-serving" if he helps other people to be self-servingly distracted?

A bit of personal background here. I live with my brother, and he and I are both going through transitional periods right now -- but his is the more excruciating, because he apparently has deep, deep problems with depression and whatnot, and he is currently prone to rambling about how he's screwed whether God exists or not, or about how we all harm things without thinking about it (can't walk across the grass without stepping on an ant), and how all of us who think we're happy are just ignoring the world around us, etc., etc., etc. Being the sort of contrarian, overly analytical person that I am, I have thoughts like these once in a while too, but not as deeply or as bitterly as my brother has them right now, and I find that I cannot look at, say, a bird right now without thinking of how its entire survival rests on the killing of other animals, etc. And my own situation is made worse because I find I want to avoid my brother when he gets like this, lest he encourage the same thoughts in me, but then I think that I would just be proving his point.

Yesterday, my girlfriend and I went for a walk and I pointed at the bright blue sky on the horizon and I said I didn't know if I could trust or appreciate beauty of that sort, because it seems so indifferent; I can bask in my girlfriend's beauty, because there is a mind, a person, there, but behind the sky -- well, who knows? On some days, people will tell you that God sends the weather as an act of judgment, pro or con; on other days, people will tell you that God sends the rain on the righteous and the wicked alike. And I hate thinking about all these things because I LIKE birds, I LIKE blue skies, I LIKE rain, and a part of me wishes I could shut off that part of my brain that gets distracted by these questions, while another part of my brain wishes I could keep these things in mind and move BEYOND these thoughts to some sort of higher plane.

It's kind of like what I talked about in my posts on Adaptation, how the Meryl Streep character keeps trying to revert to a state of pre-critical naivete while Charlie Kaufman, by the end of the film, has moved to a state of post-critical naivete. And I guess, where Rublev is concerned, I'm just not sure whether the title character or his audience are trying to revert to a pre-critical state or moving beyond that to a post-critical state. I guess a part of me is still afraid of trying to get to the post-critical state because I still have doubts that God will be there for me on the other side -- yet I don't want to revert to the pre-critical state because that would just feel so immature.

: : Can you honestly INFLICT evil in the course of making a film that

: : supposedly points BEYOND it?

:

: Animals got hurt (it appears). How intentional that was I really don't

: know. But it does seem to me you're telescoping on one particular aspect

: of a much more complex film.

Well, yeah, the same way discussion around films like Intimacy and The Brown Bunny tends to zero in on the graphic oral sex. You just can't portray some things in a film without knowing that they will receive a perhaps disproportionately large share of the audience's attention.

: Did you ever spend any time on the farm, or in nature? There's a heck of

: a lot of pain, suffering, death among animals all the time, all over the

: place. We urban dwellers are shocked by it, and in your case morally

: incensed, but I'd suggest it's a fact of life.

Well, we urban dwellers have all sorts of pain, suffering and death among ourselves, too, both animal and otherwise. But yes, it's a fact of life -- and that is exactly what bothers me. Especially when so many Christians interpret the early chapters of Genesis in a quasi-literal manner and say that pain, suffering, and death are all the result of some historic event (for which there is absolutely no known evidence beyond the mythopoetic literature of Genesis) known as 'the Fall', yet passages like Psalm 104 indicate that animals killing animals is all a part of God's wonderful design ("The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God," etc.). There's a contradiction, even a muddledness of thought, at the core of Christianity that I'm trying to tease out at the moment.

: Maybe it was wrong for the film makers to perpetrate some of it, but I'm

: not convinced. And I certainly can't go so far as to label it evil.

I do think the animal death is supposed to be portrayed as evil in this film -- or representative of the evil which Rublev seeks to escape or transcend in his art -- in a way that it is NOT supposed to be portrayed as evil in The Tree of the Wooden Clogs or even Apocalypse Now.

: There's no comparison between a horse breaking his leg and being killed

: soon after, and a Tartar army raping and slaughtering a townful - indeed,

: a churchful - of people.

In real life, no, there is no comparison. But in cinema, in terms of moviemaking, yes, we can say that the suffering of horses is more evil, because it is not faked the way that the rape and slaughter are.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Thanks for the personal background to all this. Tough stuff. Sounds to me like it would be wise to be sure your brother is getting some professional help with the depression thing: it's dangerous stuff, and if he's not seeing a doctor about it, it would be a good idea. (Normally I'd email something like that off-list, but my email isn't accessible til sometime later this week, or maybe not for a couple weeks.)

Back to ANDREI...

Ron wrote:

: : I'm just a little unsettled by the possibility that beauty, faithful or

: : otherwise, is little more than a self-serving distraction from the brutality

: : and not something deeper.

:

: His icon making, presumably, gave him respite from the horrors around

: him. \"Little more than self-serving\"? - hardly, if it also leaves a legacy in

: which centuries of other Christians find further respite, blessing, transcendence.

So it's not \"self-serving\" if he helps other people to be self-servingly distracted?

I personally don't believe that's the function of art, or religion, in our lives. I suppose either of them can be simply opiate for the masses, but that's not the function they play in God's kingdom.

Here's a story that comes to mind when I mull this sort of question;

ANOTHER PARABLE OF THE TALENTS

adapted slightly from a story by William C. Davis

There once was a village chief with three sons. Each of them had been given a special gift.

The oldest knew all about raising olive trees. The people of the village traded olive oil to passing peddlars in exchange for tools and cloth. With the eldest son's knowledge and love for the trees, their orchards thrived and the village prospered.

The second son was a shepherd. If the sheep became sick, he knew better than anyone else how to make them well again. Under his care, the village flocks grew healthy and numerous, and the wool they produced was much sought after for its fineness.

The third son was a dancer. When the villagers were down on their luck or bored from the tedium of work, he could raise their spirits better than anyone else. He loved to dance, and when he danced the joy of the dance filled the people and refreshed their weariness.

Now the village chief had to go on a long journey, so he called his three sons together. "My sons, the villagers are depending on you. While I am gone, see that you use your gifts as wisely and well as you can, so that when I return I will find our village even more happy and prosperous than it is now." With these words he embraced his sons and confidently departed.

For a while things went well, but when the cold winds began to blow, the village fell on hard times. No one could remember such a bitterly cold winter. The buds on the olive trees shrank and cracked. Seeing them, the first son knew that it would take the trees a long time to recover.

Eventually it got to the point where the villagers had no choice but to go to him. "Please. We beg you. We have no wood for our fires. Cut down the trees."

At first he would not hear of it but finally he relented. "Very well. You cut them down." He knew it would be foolish to save the trees only to lose the village.

Now, the ice and snow made it impossible for traders to travel on the river or get through the mountain pass, so the villagers hadn't enough to eat. "Please. We are starving. Our children go without food. The sheep must be killed."

"I am a doctor to your sheep. How can I bear to have them killed?" But they pleaded and pleaded with him. So finally he consented and gave the sheep to the hungry villagers, for he knew that the only purpose of healing sheep was to help the village prosper; and what good would it do to spare the sheep only to have the villagers perish?

In this way the villagers got just enough wood for their fires and food for their tables. Nevertheless, the bitter winter had broken their spirit, so they began to think things were worse than they really were. They lost hope, became desperate, and family by family they deserted the village in search of a better home.

Just as spring was beginning to loosen the cold grip of winter, the village chief returned to find smoke rising from only one chimney - his own. Astonished and troubled, he rushed into the house, surprising his three sons. "What have you done? What has become of the villagers?"

The eldest son said, "Oh please, father, forgive me. I have forsaken my gift. The people were freezing and they begged me to cut down the trees, so I did. I am no longer fit to be an orchard keeper."

The second son said, "Don't be angry, father. It grew so cold that the sheep would surely have frozen anyway. And the villagers were starving, so I gave them the sheep. My gift went for naught, for I had to send the flock to slaughter."

"My sons, don't be ashamed. True, the village is not happier and more prosperous than I left it, but you did your best to make it so. And you did use your gifts wisely, for you tried in the only way you knew to save your people. But tell me, what has become of them?"

Then the youngest son said, "Welcome home, father. We had so little firewood and food while you were away. It hardly seemed proper to dance during such suffering. And besides, I wanted to conserve my strangth so that when you returned I would be able to welcome you with my dancing."

"Then dance, my son. For my village is empty and so is my heart. Fill it with joy and courage once again. Please, dance."

But as the third son went to get up, he grimaced and fell. His legs were so stiff and sore from sitting that they were no longer fit for dancing.

With so much sadness in his heart that there was scarcely room for anger, the father went over to his son. "Ours was a strong village. It could have survived the want of fuel and food, but not without hope. And because you failed to use your gift, our people gave up what little hope they had left. Now the village is deserted and you are crippled. Your punishment has already befallen you." And with these words he embraced his sons and wept.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

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  • 3 weeks later...

Weird. I finally saw Spy Kids 3-D and went looking for this thread, and I had forgotten that it was linked to Andrei Rublev. Anyway ...

Michael Elliott wrote:

: Loved the original Spy Kids.

: Was bored by the sequel.

: Was dreading the third installment.

: Color me surprised.

I wasn't "bored" by the sequel, so I wasn't quite "dreading" the third film, but I do share your surprise that the third film was as good as it was --better than the second one, I would say.

: Lots of celebrity cameos.

Yes, including cast members from Rodriguez's earlier films From Dusk Till Dawn and The Faculty. How long before Josh Hartnett makes a cameo appearance? For that matter, how long before Faculty member Famke Janssen pops by for a reunion with her Goldeneye and X2 cast-mate (and Spy Kids regular) Alan Cumming?

: Lots of video game inside jokes.

I don't know video games well enough to get the inside jokes, but I LOVED that vehicle race -- it was like something out of Tron, only really pumped up.

: Sylvester Stallone (playing 4 parts - Sure, he doesn't have the range to

: pull it off. He knows it. We know it. We're all in on the joke. It works.)

Oh, I thought he had just enough range for those parts. smile.gif

: George Clooney (playing himself except for one hysterical morphing

: scene. Stay for the credits for the behind the scene action of that filming.)

Heh. Did you see the audition footage that played AFTER the credits?

SDG wrote:

: In this film, Robert Rodriguez throws all semblance of narrative and

: emotional logic to the winds. Not only does most of the story take place

: within a video game, but human actions and decisions are as nonsensical

: as the video-game plot, and the plot makes much, much less sense than

: ever.

Funny, I remember thinking how liberating it was that the film took place in a video game, because now it's random association of settings and creations didn't HAVE to make sense the way I kinda sorta thought the second film should have made sense.

: Still later, when he describes a female player as "my girlfr..." our jaws

: drop, because the movie has done nothing whatsoever to justify an

: actual emotional bond between them.

Alas, I had read this description before seeing the film, so I will never know what my jaw would have done if I had heard the line for the first time from the character himself, but (1) yes, it does come as a surprise, and (2) no, I do understand why Juni would feel that way -- she's cute, she sacrificed herself for him, etc.

: Even the loopy visual imagination of the first two films is gone.

I disagree. It's just a different KIND of loopy visual imagination this time around. I loved the bike chase, the lava surfing, the pogo sticks in that weird, animated, ToonTown sort of world.

And I loved those scenes with Ricardo Montalban.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter T Chattaway wrote:

Oh, I thought [stallone] had just enough range for those parts.

I agree! smile.gif In fact, in my review, I listed among Spy Kids 3-D's positive points, "Sylvester Stallone is finally funny, giving the comic performance(s) of his career in quadruple roles as a mad scientist and his three holographic alter egos."

Funny, I remember thinking how liberating it was that the film took place in a video game, because now it's random association of settings and creations didn't HAVE to make sense the way I kinda sorta thought the second film should have made sense.

But, in the first place, even video games are supposed to have rules that make sense. I think kids expect this even in video-game movies (look at Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.). In the second place, what bothered me was less that the game didn't make sense than that the characters' decisions and actions and real-world implications didn't make sense.

For example: When Carmen goes into the game, she wants Juni as her backup, but he doesn't return OSS calls so he's unavailable. Then, when the OSS finally convinced him to cooperate, he has to go all the way to OSS headquarters, be briefed, prepped, and plugged in. BUT when Juni then requests Grandpa Cortez as his backup, Grandpa instantly appears, and doesn't even know how he got there!

And, sorry, but I don't accept that with his sister's life and the fate of a generation of gamers hanging in the balance, Juni is giving away game-playing longevity to a cute girl he barely knows -- not only reducing his chances of mission success, but also increasing the girl's unwitting imprisonment in the game. (Shouldn't Juni WANT to see the other players "lose" and thus be expelled from the game, i.e., liberated from the Toymaker's trap? Shouldn't he be HAPPY when the girl he likes goes down, instead of dropping to his knees like somebody had DIED? For that matter, did she really help him before he gave her the points, or was it after? I forget.)

Also, while this is a matter of video-game rules, I think we deserve SOME kind of explanation for why the Programmers, whose power within the game far outstrips that of players, are so helpless against Grandpa Cortez. He was plugged into the game just like Juni; he should have the same game-playing status as Juni.

Then there's the whole business about The O-- er, The Guy. The beta testers think Juni is The Guy, but he says he's not, but plays along to get their help. Then, ever so briefly, Elijah Wood appears and professes to be the true Guy, but is quickly, if not discredited, at least rendered moot. After that, IIRC, the whole business of The Guy pretty much fades away without further payoff. Is there a Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh fan anywhere who isn't going to walk out of the film asking, "Who really WAS The Guy? Was it Juni? That other guy? Somebody else? Was there a Guy at all?"

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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SDG wrote:

: In fact, in my review, I listed among Spy Kids 3-D's positive points,

: "Sylvester Stallone is finally funny, giving the comic performance(s) of

: his career in quadruple roles as a mad scientist and his three holographic

: alter egos."

Does anyone here know the Danny Kaye film The Inspector General? There is a scene where he seeks motivation from three alter egos, one of whom I think even has an old-style German military officer's helmet like one of Stallone's characters did here. I kept thinking of that film whenever Stallone had his conversations with those three characters.

: : Funny, I remember thinking how liberating it was that the film took

: : place in a video game, because now it's random association of settings

: : and creations didn't HAVE to make sense the way I kinda sorta thought

: : the second film should have made sense.

:

: But, in the first place, even video games are supposed to have rules that

: make sense. I think kids expect this even in video-game movies (look at

: Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc.).

Uh, do I HAVE to look at those films? smile.gif

: For example: When Carmen goes into the game, she wants Juni as her

: backup, but he doesn't return OSS calls so he's unavailable. Then, when

: the OSS finally convinced him to cooperate, he has to go all the way to

: OSS headquarters, be briefed, prepped, and plugged in. BUT when Juni

: then requests Grandpa Cortez as his backup, Grandpa instantly appears,

: and doesn't even know how he got there!

Well, yeah, that occured to me too, as I was watching the film. But, I dunno, for some reason I didn't care, maybe because the second film had already lowered my expectations. smile.gif

: And, sorry, but I don't accept that with his sister's life and the fate of a

: generation of gamers hanging in the balance, Juni is giving away

: game-playing longevity to a cute girl he barely knows -- not only

: reducing his chances of mission success, but also increasing the girl's

: unwitting imprisonment in the game.

Ah.

: Shouldn't he be HAPPY when the girl he likes goes down, instead of

: dropping to his knees like somebody had DIED?

Well, he'd never gotten her e-mail address, remember? smile.gif

: For that matter, did she really help him before he gave her the points, or

: was it after? I forget.

I believe it was after, but I could be wrong about that.

: Then there's the whole business about The O-- er, The Guy.

Um, I feel like I should be getting a joke here, but I'm not -- what does the "O" stand for?

: The beta testers think Juni is The Guy, but he says he's not, but plays

: along to get their help. Then, ever so briefly, Elijah Wood appears and

: professes to be the true Guy, but is quickly, if not discredited, at least

: rendered moot. After that, IIRC, the whole business of The Guy pretty

: much fades away without further payoff.

Yup. I thought it was a fun-enough joke, and if I gave it any more thought I would probably have been bothered by it, but I didn't, so I'm not.

: Is there a Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh fan anywhere who isn't going to walk

: out of the film asking, "Who really WAS The Guy? Was it Juni? That other

: guy? Somebody else? Was there a Guy at all?"

Ah, so I'm missing something because I'm not a Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh fan. And here I thought maybe you were just upset that a god-like messianic figure had had the rug pulled out from under him. smile.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Peter T Chattaway wrote:

Does anyone here know the Danny Kaye film
The Inspector General
?

Sorry, no.

Well, he'd never gotten her e-mail address, remember?
smile.gif

Ha! biggrin.gif

: For that matter, did she really help him before he gave her the points, or

: was it after? I forget.

I believe it was after, but I could be wrong about that.

Yeah, that's how I remember it too. So he "helped" her (really hurting both of them) before she'd even done anything for him.

: Then there's the whole business about The O-- er, The Guy.

Um, I feel like I should be getting a joke here, but I'm not -- what does the "O" stand for?

Darn, I was afraid of that. I couldn't think of any good way to break off "The One." I tried it "The O--" and "The On--" and decided that "The On--" was more confusing, but maybe I was wrong.

Ah, so I'm missing something because I'm not a Pokemon or Yu-Gi-Oh fan.

Well, neither am I (I doubt if I've seen more than 10 minutes combined total of both shows); I'm just putting myself in the position of the target audience (I've got a nephew who's crazy into Yu-Gi-Oh and is a recovering Pokemon addict). The same thought occurred to me watching Pirates of the Caribbean, which had quite clearly defined rules about how one was zombified and de-zombified, what the various parties wanted and how it could be achieved, what you could and couldn't do against zombie opponents, and so forth. When I got back from the screening my wife asked me if I thought Zack would be able to follow the action, and I said, "Oh, totally, it's got rules just like a video game cartoon."

And here I thought maybe you were just upset that a god-like messianic figure had had the rug pulled out from under him.
smile.gif

Ha again! No, not hardly.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

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SDG wrote:

: Yeah, that's how I remember it too. So he "helped" her (really hurting

: both of them) before she'd even done anything for him.

I think we were supposed to take that scene as evidence that Juni is a Nice Guy, but whatever.

: : : Then there's the whole business about The O-- er, The Guy.

: :

: : Um, I feel like I should be getting a joke here, but I'm not -- what does

: : the "O" stand for?

:

: Darn, I was afraid of that. I couldn't think of any good way to break off

: "The One."

Ah, gotcha. I kept trying to figure out something more Tolkienesque. smile.gif

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 2 years later...

OK, pulling this one up out of oblivion just to say :eggface:

I saw that a guest was looking at it and didn't remember it so I looked back through. Jeffrey, it was a stroke of genius to create this thread.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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