Saturday, September 25, 2010

"Where the Wild Things Are" Review

Spoiler Alert.

When I first heard about this movie, I was intrigued and blogged about it. My daughter and I watched it last night and I think I want to watch it again. Just to make sure I understand this movie.

Stylistically, I liked the way it was shot. Very casual, handheld camera movements, light hits seemingly arbritarily, but it's intentional. The beginning of the movie had a 70's feel to it, so it instantly reminded me of my childhood. I actually questioned the timeline until we see the mother working on a computer. Actually, it was an older desktop she had. So, now it could appeal more to someone who grew up in 90's.

It opens up with a day in Max's life. He's wrestling the dog and seems more animal than boy. You see everything from his point of view and can empathize with him. Watching him argue with his mother in the famous scene, he seems like a lost and frustrated boy. You understand his situation from his point of view, as well as his family's.

When he escapes to "where the wild things are," his adventures begin. The Wild Things are essentially large muppets with excellent facial expressions. I loved how they all had normal voices and names - Carrol, KW, Judith. Nobody had a fanciful name or funny voices. They sounded and acted like average humans. They just had the impulse to eat Max, every now and then.

At home, Max has no control over his circumstances. With the Wild Things, he does. Yet, with power comes great responsibilities. They have their adventures and there's no sense of time in this new world. There's no sense of baths either as his costume gets dirtier. When problems rise and he's forced to be the "grownup", he quietly reflects. There are lots of power dynamics between the other creatures and their own relationships with each other, as well as what it takes to make an ideal society. The whole movie is rather quiet and low.

So, the book is written for young readers - 5-7 years old. It's perfect for kids. There's a bit of rebellion, lots of dreams. When I was young, I didn't like Max because he was a rude boy. I loved the Wild Things with their fun spirit.

I watched this movie with my 9-year-old, and I think that's a good age to really absorb this movie. Anyone younger will quickly be turned off by the quiet nature of this movie. Also, I'm intrigued by my daughter's reaction to this movie. When I was young, I was offended by "I'll eat you up" threat from Max. My daughter was shocked when Max bit his mother in anger. That stayed with her all evening as his most brazen act - you don't attack your mother. She was also upset by the way he had wrestled the dog and was surprised the dog took it. She and I talked about Max and his handling of anger, since I don't want her to imitate him and think she could get away with it. By the way, she asked me what would I do if she ran away. I told her I'd go find her and she could never go away from me. I have to laugh thinking of my sister and I threatening my mom that we'd run away. She'd laugh at us and say, "Oh yeah, go right ahead. The world is ready for you, right? Come here, we've been waiting for you!"

The end was surprisingly quite moving. Max's farewell to his friends and his reunion home.

I definitely want to see it again and understand it better. And turn up the volume more so I could hear it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Keep Your Church Out of My State

All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.
Dalai Lama

At my office, when some someone is frustrated with their situation, they will blame the managers for not attending to them. Managers believe they are helping the employees by focusing on long term solutions, not immediate fixes.

Take this to the national level. People are frustrated with their economic situation and turn their anger to the leaders and government for not fixing it now.

News commentator Glenn Beck recently led a rally in Washington DC. The New York Times said, "Mr. Beck told the crowd, in what was part religious revival and part history lecture. “America today begins to turn back to God.”" While the Tea Party movement doesn't specify religion as their platform, it invariably arises in their speeches. They're bringing out the "forefathers" and their original intentions. They claim our freedoms are at stake because the government is involved.

I wish more Americans could visit a country where they truly lack freedoms. If they are able to hold rallies and public congregations without police action, arrest and detentions, they are obviously enjoying American freedoms. If women are allowed to have their own income, own name, and own control of her body, we have freedoms the government cannot take away. I find it intriguing that immigrants are not engaged in this movement. Based on my experience, immigrants tend to have a different mentality and perspective than those who have been American for generations.

I had to laugh at the NY Times article where a woman states: "Becky Benson, 56, traveled from Orlando, Florida, because, she said, “we believe in Jesus Christ,” and Jesus, she said, would not have agreed with the economic stimulus package, bank bailouts and welfare. “You cannot sit and expect someone to hand out to you,” she said. “You don’t spend your way out of debt.”

Really? Jesus Christ does not support helping the sick and poor and believed in capitalism?

However, that raises the whole other point about religion. A growing number of Americans think that President Obama is Muslim. Is it because he plays golf on Sundays instead of going to church? He doesn't make a big display of his religion so he is not seen as a valid Christian politician, and not one of "them"? Yes, he was born Barack Hussain, but Christianity is a religion that encourages conversions. How are these people forgetting this? George W. Bush was known for his substance abuse with alcohol before he found religion. So, that's been cleared from his record. I hope that President Obama will stay true to himself and not parade his religion now to assure the ignorant Americans he is not one of "them". However, this is American history repeating itself as Lincoln and Roosevelt's religions were also subject to criticism.

Honestly, I don't want my President to be religious. He (or she!) will be representing millions of Americans. Some believe in the same God and some do not believe in anything. I don't want their religion influencing legislation. First of all, we do not have the same religion. A quote from John Locke English philosopher, "If each of them [state and Church] would contain itself within its own bounds, the one attending to the worldly welfare of the Commonwealth, the other to the salvation of souls, 'tis impossible any discord should ever have happened between them."We don't have a uniform religious code and shouldn't. We simply need to turn outward and see other countries with religious agenda in politics.

A lot of the controversies these days could have been squashed had the media not been involved. The media wants to show they are "balanced" by showing different points of views. This is only effective if it's true. They show askewed angles. It's like giving a blind man an elephant's trunk or tail and asking him to describe the elephant.

The problem with our society is the need to have everything now. Journalists need to kick out articles for the web instaneously; time to research is an obsolete concept. The media churns news like cotton candy -- sweet and alluring fluff, no substance.

Last year, we had Obama's spirit of change sweeping across the country. It didn't happen fast enough, people say. This reminds me of a server at work that needs to be replaced. It's about to die and if it dies, we're goners. Replacement is there and it could be stood up in a week. But, if we're going to do it right, it may take longer. It's been 6 months now and it's partially stood up. This is ONE server in ONE building for ONE company. Let's multiply this by millions of Americans and the government bureaucracy. Yeah.