The Last Great Day

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May 312013
 

Several days ago, I was running to pick up lunch. In the car, I heard a very brief part of an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air. The host was interviewing Greta Gerwig  who plays the title character of the film Frances Ha.  I believe Gerwig co-wrote the screenplay with director Noah Baumbach.

I only caught a small part of the interview, and am not really interested in the movie, but Gerwig made an interesting statement that’s stuck with me. She said:

“You don’t know when the last time of something happening is. You don’t know what the last great day you’ll spend with your best friend is. You’ll just know when you’ve never had that day again.”

This sentiment struck me, and I got a melancholy feeling thinking of times and people past. Many still a part of my life, but many cast to the distance of time, geography, or life’s natural momentum.

I started thinking of some of these great days. Some were shared with or created by people who are still very much a part of my life, and so I’m not ready to believe we’ve had our last great day.

These times include visits to the North Carolina mountains with my friend Glenda. We visit often one of the days before Thanksgiving. I remember one year meeting on the Tuesday before the holiday, and basically having run of downtown Boone, and the little business district of Blowing Rock. It was a misty cool day.  While some might prefer a bright sunny day, I enjoyed the muffled sounds and soft outlines of the foggy mist. We laughed and joked, and just enjoyed the slow easy pace. There will be other trips and other great times.

I remember frequent Sunday afternoons here in Tampa at the home of our friends Jeff and Mike. Mike would cook dinner, and we’d play Shanghai. This even included a hurricane evacuation to Orlando from Tampa in 2004, right into the eventual path of Hurricane Charlie. We spent the afternoon playing cards. I’d get picked on the entire game for being slow in my decisions for my next move. We’re still friends with both,  but they parted ways, so we  no longer have those Sunday afternoons.

However, there are experiences which I have strong reason to suspect fit within this category of “last great days.” Continue reading »

Boy In The Striped Pajamas, The – A Movie Review

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Nov 232008
 

The Boy In The Striped Pajamas Movie PosterEight year-old Bruno is the sheltered son of a Nazi officer whose promotion takes the family from their comfortable home in Berlin to a desolate area where the lonely boy finds nothing to do and no-one to play with. Crushed by boredom and compelled by curiosity, Bruno ignores his mother’s repeated instructions not to explore the back garden and heads for the “farm” he has seen in the near distance. There he meets Shmuel, a boy his own age who lives a parallel, alien existence on the other side of a barbed wire fence. Bruno’s encounter with the boy in the striped pajamas leads him from innocence to a dawning awareness of the adult world around them as his meetings with Shmuel develop into a friendship with devastating consequences.

Genres: Drama, Adaptation and War; Running Time: 1 hr. 33 min.; Release Date: November 7th, 2008 (limited); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some mature thematic material involving the Holocaust.

Starring: Vera Farmiga, David Thewlis, Rupert Friend, Cara Horgan, David Hayman, Asa Butterfield, Jack Scanlon

Directed by: Mark Herman

I was moved beyond words by this movie. It was maybe one of the saddest and most moving stories I’ve seen. All the actors were great, but especially Asa Butterfield as Bruno, the Nazi Commandants son, and Jack Scanlon as the Jewish child Schmuel were just remarkable. The music was beautiful in its simplicity, and by the end came to sound like a hymn.

This story has so many messages that it’s hard to know where to begin. First there is the story of the innocence of childhood. It is amazing to be able to see the world through children’s eyes, and realize how really simple the world can be. We just have to find those things we have in common with one another, and friendship is easy. There is the moral story of karma. Those who foment hate and evil may have it come around to bite them in the ass.

This movie was a stunning morality play, and I hope it will be seen by millions. This movie, like Schindler’s List, is an important story with an important message applicable to how we treat one another today, and a reminder of the importance of never ever standing by for this type of evil. At the end of the movie everyone in the theater sat quietly rather than making the usual dash to the exits. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was stunned into a soul searching reflection. Even as we began to leave, with the beautiful piano solo playing the movie theme that had become more like a hymn, people could only whisper in respect for the experience.

It was also amazing to hear the language used to teach hate for other’s, and see how it can br effective for those looking to blame their problems on someone else. It was remarkably similar to the words and tactics used by those today to dehumanize gay people.

Know that the film’s resolution, though admirably restrained and unsentimental, is devastatingly sad. Parents should take this into account. This beautifully rendered film is told in a classic and old-fashioned style, in the best sense, providing poignant and powerful teachable moments.

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Kite Runner, The

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Apr 132008
 

The Kite RunnerIn a divided country on the verge of war, two childhood friends, Amir and Hassan, are about to be torn apart forever. It’s a glorious afternoon in Kabul and the skies are bursting with the exhilarating joy of a kite-fighting tournament. But in the aftermath of the day’s victory, one boy’s fearful act of betrayal will mark their lives forever and set in motion an epic quest for redemption. Now, after 20 years of living in America, Amir returns to a perilous Afghanistan under the Taliban’s iron-fisted rule to face the secrets that still haunt him and take one last daring chance to set things right.

Directed by: Marc Forster 
Genres: Drama and Adaptation
Starring: Shaun Toub, Khalid Abdalla, Nasser Memarzia, Said Taghmaoui, Atossa Leoni
Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.
Release Date: December 14th, 2007 (limited)

Lay and I started to watch this Friday night, but were both too tired, especially it is extensively subtitled. We came back to it last night, and I’m glad we did. Lay, who hates subtitled movies even got into this story.

This was an excellent movie, and now I want to read the book. The special effects and cinematography was great, and the music provided a perfect accompaniment to an excellent story well told. There where many parts where I wanted further elaboration, but I recognize that as part of the limitations of the medium…hence my desire to read the book.

The characters all played their parts very well, and while it was a very sad story, I very much enjoyed being drawn in. This one definitely goes to the top of the list for me.

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