They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

Dystopias -- Real and Imagined

We went to the movies on Wednesday afternoon -- a wonderful bright blue sunny afternoon. Our theatre of choice was Celebration Woodland, the second run multiplex in the Jack Loeks chain. Don't go there very often.

Indeed, this is the first to Woodland since I got the handicapped parking sticker. Outside, it's a bit of a fail. Not quite 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon, only four handicapped spaces, all full. And no door opening buttons? Come on, this is not an old complex and it's 2014. Inside it isn't bad. Theatre 13 has a single door which leads you onto the mid-deck, which has three pairs of seats and wide spaces for wheelchairs and foot up armrests. I rolled in with my walker and plunked down in the center pair of seats -- right in front of the only other people in the theatre at the time. Adequate seats, terrific view.

The movie we really wanted to see was 12 Years a Slave, but it's not playing anywhere we could find. Just like the run up to the Oscars. So we caught up on another movie we'd missed.

The Book Thief [PG-13]
Celebration Cinema Woodland Theatre #13 2:05pm 2x$5.00

This film starts out very white. Clouds. An overhead view of a European steam train wending its way through bright white snow. An overhead view of a 1930s car driving through a stark white countryside, you can barely see where the road is. The car enters a crowded neighborhood of cobblestone streets. We briefly see inside the train. Someone dies and is buried. The story finally begins.

It's no secret that the narrator is Death. Does that make this genre? Spec fic? Fantasy? Not necessarily. Death is mainly an observer. He is curious and confused about people, not particularly an agent in what transpires. But this movie is really about the love and humor and strength of people -- our "book thief" Liesel, Rudy, Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson, Max, the wife of the burgermeister.

Mrs. Dr. Phil has read the book, I have not. She reports that the movie is faithful and does no damage to the story.

I mention dystopias in the post title. I wrote about the Divergent trilogy the other day. It's situation and violence is man-made, and not real. Living in Stuttgart, Germany, in WW II was a real dystopia, also of man's making. We rarely see the ordinary home front inside Germany in film.

And Nazis. The big bad bogeymen of the twentieth century. They terrorized everyone, including their own people. Including their own children. It is frightening to see schoolchildren singing about the hatred of other people, bullying each other, burning books. Wearing the swastika on their school uniform.

And yet... people were willing to risk everything to help those demonized by Hitler. Having never lived under such conditions, I have no idea what I would have done -- I fear I would have done what was needed to survive. Not particularly heroic, but there you are. A soft, privileged first world life.

Like Kate Winslet in The Reader, one wonders how widespread illiteracy was in prewar Germany. And fascinated by the power of books.

The cast is superb. Everyone is perfect, I found no wrong notes by anyone. The kids are outstanding. Geoffrey Rush is a joy to watch, the cinematography exceptional. The banter and lighthearted accusations are spontaneous, believable. And people have depth. They don't have just one note. Well, except for the cowardly bullies.

I cannot imagine living like that. Which, I suppose, is why films like The Book Thief are important, even if they are small and quiet films. I've seen the Blitz in London portrayed dozens of times. It's hard to be on the ground side of the bombing of Stuttgart -- those are Allied planes and bombs. But then war, even when enthusiastically embraced at first, isn't fair.

HIGHLY Recommended

Trailers: Only two trailers of note. On the cute end is Disneynature's Bears about... bears. Specifically a mother and her two cubs. Then there's the grittier Gimme Shelter about a teen abandoned by an unreliable mother and exhausted by the being in The System. Until she meets James Earl Jones (who looks to be a preacher connected to a foster house) and gets pregnant, in some order.

Dr. Phil

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